NEWARK, N.J. -- The bad news for Penguins defenseman Paul Martin, who spent his entire pro career before this summer in New Jersey, is that much of the Prudential Center crowd booed him every time he touched the puck Monday.
The good news is that there were so few fans that the decibel count probably never reached double digits.
And the best news of all came when Martin sealed the Penguins' 3-1 victory by steering the puck into an empty net with 10.9 seconds to play in regulation.
But only after opting against setting up teammate Craig Adams, who had an open net from close range, as well.
"I looked over at him, and the puck was still rolling," Martin said. "I'm sure I'll get some grief for it, but if it was flat, maybe I would have slid it over."
Perhaps, but he acknowledged there were other factors at work. Like who the Penguins were playing.
"I think I just had one thing on my mind, being in New Jersey," he said. "I'm not the type of guy who's concerned too much about my goals and assists [but] my emotions took over, and I wanted to put the puck in the net."
Adams didn't take the decision personally.
"I didn't expect him to pass it, but he didn't really shoot it in [to the net]," Adams said. "He kind of let it roll off his stick. I didn't really know what he was doing."
The puck made it across the goal line, though, the final indignity for a crowd that had given Martin a surprisingly hostile reception.
"I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the fact I left, and the fact I'm with the Penguins," he said. "It's not like I went out west to [Los Angeles] and I just come back once a year. I'm in the same division.
"I'm sure that has something to do with. Hopefully, the boos are because they miss me and wanted me to stay."
Penguins center Sidney Crosby still doesn't have a goal this season, but he came awfully close to changing that with a stunning play off the opening faceoff.
He pushed the puck past New Jersey center Travis Zajac directly off the draw at center ice, then chased it into the Devils' zone before getting off a good shot on Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.
"I thought I might catch them off guard a bit," Crosby said. "If the puck wasn't bouncing, I think I would have been in. I thought I had a chance.
"It's good to try things sometimes, put guys on their heels a bit."
New Jersey enforcer Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, who missed Monday's game while serving a one-game suspension, might have reached the end of his career with the Devils.
He was forced to sit out against the Penguins for instigating a fight with Washington's Marcus Johansson, a 20-year-old Swedish rookie, with just over four minutes left in the Capitals' 7-2 victory Saturday at the Verizon Center.
New Jersey general manager Lou Lamoriello placed Letourneau-Leblond on waivers, with the apparent intention of demoting him to the American Hockey League if he clears.
Letourneau-Leblond might have sealed his fate when he acknowledged to reporters that he was aware of the NHL rule calling for an automatic suspension for anyone instigating a fight in the final five minutes of regulation, but decided to go after an opponent who had no interest in trading punches with him, anyway.
Early indications are that the Devils will use Letourneau-Leblond's salary to sign free-agent center Adam Mair, who has been working out with the team.
Wednesday night's game against Toronto at Consol Energy Center will start at 7:38., a half-hour later than usual, to accommodate Canadian television. ... The announced crowd of 12,880 -- which reaffirmed that NHL teams announce tickets in circulation, not bottoms in seats -- still was 4,745 below the Prudential Center's capacity of 17,625.