Penguins blow 3-1 lead, fall in overtime
Petr Sykora heads off the ice as Jamie Langenbrunner, left, celebrates with Travis Zajac after Langenbrunner scored the winning goal in overtime to give the New Jersey Devils a 4-3 win against the Penguins in Newark, N.J.
Sidney Crosby, left, celebrates after scoring a goal against New Jersey Devils goaltender Scott Clemmensen during the first period of last night's game.
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NEWARK, N.J. -- There is no such thing as having the New Jersey Devils where you want them.
At least, not when they are at seven wins in a row and counting, as they were last night.
"We were playing well. We were about 30 seconds away from winning the game. It's tough to take," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said after his team became New Jersey's eighth successive victim, falling, 4-3, in overtime at Prudential Center.
The Penguins didn't trail for more than 59 minutes, but Devils captain and winger Jamie Langenbrunner scored with 30.1 seconds left in regulation to tie the score, then struck again with 1 minute left in overtime.
With the point, the Penguins matched the 53 points of ninth-place Carolina in the Eastern Conference, but they could have moved into an eighth-place tie with a win.
"It's not good play the last five minutes," said Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin, who had a goal and an assist to push his league-leading point total to 73.
His goal, the 100th of his career, came on a two-on-one breakaway at 8:35 of the third period to make it 3-1 and would have stood up as the winner if not for Langenbrunner's heroics.
Veteran Brendan Shanahan started New Jersey's comeback with a power-play goal off a slap shot at 11:59 of the third period
"Everything was all right there for a while," Penguins captain and center Sidney Crosby said. "Even after they got the one to make it 3-2, I don't think we lost too much momentum. They just got a quick play at the end made it count."
Langenbrunner's tying goal was a bang-bang play that bounced off Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney's skate and past goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who was a workhorse facing 43 shots.
"He was awesome," Whitney said of Fleury, who made big pad save at 3:33 on winger Patrick Elias' uncontested shot after he picked off a pass by Penguins defenseman Philippe Boucher, but was helpless to stop Langenbrunner's one-timer off a feed from center Travis Zajac in overtime.
That don't-take-no-for-an-answer approach by the Devils is something the Penguins would like to master.
"You need to gain momentum, and that comes with each game you win," Crosby said.
"That's a lot of confidence. They believed even at 3-1 that they could come back. I think it wasn't a lack of effort or anything on our part. We did some good things. But, at the same time, you've got to finish those guys off."
The Penguins were on their heels for the first half of the first period and killed two New Jersey power plays, but then they struck quickly, scoring on their second and third shots of the game, 20 seconds apart.
Winger Max Talbot ticked a Whitney slap shot from the left point past Devils goaltender Scott Clemmensen at 9:33 of the first period, and Crosby lifted a backhanded shot past Clemmensen off a feed from Malkin at 9:53 to make it 2-0.
It was just the second goal in the past 30 games for Talbot, who has been hampered by injuries.
The Devils closed to within 2-1 at 11:21 of the first period on center Bobby Holik swept the puck around Fleury from the right corner of the crease.
Forward Chris Minard thought he had the Penguins' third goal at 12:16 of the first period when the puck trickled under Clemmensen, but the play was reviewed and replays showed New Jersey center John Madden reached in with his stick to retrieve the puck just as it was rolling across â€" but not quite over â€" the goal line.
The Penguins were outshot, 19-7, in the first period.
"We got a slow start, but we capitalized on our chances to take the lead in the first period," Therrien said.
After a faster-paced but scoreless second period, the Penguins pushed their lead to 3-1 on Malkin's goal, which got him thirsting for more.
"I think I won't stop. Next is 200," he said.
But the Devils answered.
"They played well and they shot the puck from everywhere," Whitney said. "They came out and really worked hard for that in the third period."
"We were down, but there was still a lot of confidence on the bench," New Jersey coach Brent Sutter said. "There was a lot of drive and focus in the guys. You could tell they thought they could still win the game."
They were right.
First Published January 31, 2009 12:06 am