Devils take on Penguins, look to continue offense

The New Jersey Devils’ biggest two-game outburst in more than 20 years likely came too late to save their playoff hopes for 2021-22. But it proves to the Devils that they can play with the elite of the NHL.

The Devils will look to stay hot on Sunday afternoon when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins in a battle of Metropolitan Division rivals in Newark, NJ

Both teams enter Sunday with two-game winning streaks. The Devils scored five third period goals Thursday to stun the St. Louis Blues 7-4. Casey DeSmith stopped all 26 shots he faced Thursday as the visiting Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators 2-0.

New Jersey’s outburst against the Blues came two days after the Devils snapped a seven-game losing streak (0-7-0) with a 7-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. The 14 consecutive game goals are the most in two games for the Devils since Oct. 28-30, 2000, when they beat the Penguins 9-0 and the Florida Panthers 6-5 in overtime.

Although getting back into the playoff race probably isn’t realistic for New Jersey — which is 18 points behind the Boston Bruins, who sit second in the Eastern Conference and have played two fewer games — the impressive performance against the Blues provided a boost at the start of a three-game streak against contenders.

After hosting the Penguins, the Devils will host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday before heading to Pittsburgh on Feb. 24.

“You’re not going to put seven on the board every night,” Devils defenseman Damon Severson said after picking up two assists Thursday. “But back to back is huge for us. It gives us a bit of confidence for sure going forward.

“It’s one thing to have a good game against a struggling team (the Canadiens). But you have to put together games against good teams if you want to grow.

Few NHL teams have been as impressive over the past two months as the Penguins, who have won 19 of 26 (19-4-3) since Dec. 1 to climb to second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Pittsburgh was particularly hot ahead of a four-game skid from Jan. 27 to Feb. 1 in which they went 0-1-3, but Thursday’s two-goal victory was the second straight for the Penguins, who beat the Bruins 4- 2 Tuesday.

“It’s a pretty solid 60-minute stretch all through the lineup,” said Penguins center Jeff Carter, who scored the first goal on Thursday. “(DeSmith) made some big saves for us. But I think it’s probably our most complete game in a long time. It’s a good step for us.”

Penguins star center Sidney Crosby enters Sunday’s game one goal shy of his 500 career goals. The Pittsburgh captain is looking to become the third active player with 500 goals, joining Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Marleau, and the 46th in NHL history.

–Field-Level Media

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