Jack Hughes Nico Hischier New Jersey Devils beat Pittsburgh Penguins
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jack Hughes had two goals and Nico Hischier added a shorthanded goal to help the New Jersey Devils beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 on Friday.
New Jersey is 19-3-2 when Hischier scores and 11-4-1 when Hughes scores.
Dougie Hamilton also scored for the Devils, who lost back-to-back. New Jersey has a total of two wins in their last 10 games.
“It was a really good performance from our top guys,” said Devils coach Lindy Ruff. “When you start winning hockey games, your top guys are the guys that kind of pull you through.”
Despite their recent struggles, the Devils are 13-2-1 this season, second best in the NHL. The Devils were 11-26-4 last season.
Vitek Vanecek stopped 25 shots for the Devils, who are 21-3-2 this season if they score three or more goals in a game.
“There are many different ways to win a game,” Ruff said. “When you go through the year, you have to win games like that.”
Evgeni Malkin and Jeff Carter scored for the Penguins, who have lost four straight games and five in six after a seven-game winning streak. Tristan Jarry made 24 saves.
“A loss is a loss but I think it’s better than the previous two games,” Jarry said. “The trend is going in the right direction.”
Pittsburgh played without top defenseman Kris Letang, who has been battling a daily lower body injury. The power play, scoring in 11 of 12 previous games, went 0 to 9. That included a four-minute penalty midway through the third period that saw the Penguins push for the equalizer.
“It’s hard to criticize (the power play),” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. “They’ve been pretty dynamic for the last 10+ games or so. Power Play won games for us.”
Malkin opened the gate to 14:26 with a breakaway goal. He took Hamilton’s puck on the defensive blueline, ran into the zone and hit Vanecek on the glove side.
The goal put Malkin ahead of Sergei Fedorov for the second most points in NHL history among Russian-born players.
Hamilton appeared to tie the game at 3:21 of the second but the goal was annulled due to keeper interference.
Hughes power play goal at 6:18 counted. For his 19th of the season, he shot under the bar from the left circle.
It was Hughes’ 16th career power-play goal, which ranked Paul Gagne fifth in franchise history among players under 22. Hamilton’s assist was his 400th NHL point, 13th among active defensemen.
Carter gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead at 12:30 of the second period, but the Devils scored twice in the final 2:23 of the period. Hamilton leveled the game at 17:37 when he finished a feed from Dawson Mercer, and Hischier scored in 37.1 seconds to play in the second game.
“I had a lot of pace and wanted the puck,” Hischier said. “I was pretty sure I could go outside and decided to shoot the puck. When you shoot the puck, good things happen.”
Devils: host Carolina on Sunday.
Penguins: Face off against Boston at Fenway Park on Monday in the NHL’s annual Winter Classic.
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