PITTSBURGH – New Jersey coach Jacques Lemaire said the Devils played as well as they can. It’s taken that type of effort to beat Pittsburgh so far this season.
Nicklas Bergfors, Travis Zajac and Zach Parise each had a goal and an assist and the Devils snapped the Penguins’ winning streak at seven with a 4-1 victory Saturday night.
Mark Fraser added his first career goal, and Martin Brodeur made 32 saves for the Devils, who have beaten the two teams with the most points in the Eastern Conference the past three days. They beat the New York Rangers 4-2 on Thursday night.
“I think that we played a really good, tight game,” Lemaire said after his team improved to 5-0 on the road for the first time in team history. “We didn’t give them much.
“I really enjoyed the game because we had no passengers; everyone did their job and was good with the puck. (The Penguins) were waiting for a little life, which we never gave them.”
Alex Goligoski scored for the Penguins (9-2-0), who lost for the first time all season when Marc-Andre Fleury started a game.
The victory was a potentially costly one for the Devils. Veteran winger Jay Pandolfo left the game after being boarded by Mike Rupp 13 minutes into the second and did not return.
Lemaire described Pandolfo’s prognosis as “scary,” and the Devils were upset with the hit by Rupp, a former teammate.
“I got rid of the puck and got hit form behind. I don’t know if there’s any need for that hit,” Pandolfo said. “It’s disappointing. I kind of had my face against the boards, for him to come and run someone who had already gotten rid of the puck, it’s a little surprising he would do that.”
New Jersey also lost stalwart defenceman Paul Martin for the final 6 minutes of play after he was slashed.
But the Devils played the type of airtight game they made routine under Lemaire’s previous regime as coach in the 1990s. The defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins entered the game tied for second in the league in goals, and New Jersey limited reigning NHL scoring champion Evgeni Malkin to no points and no shots.
“I think we played really well in all three zones,” Lemaire said. “They had some chances, but rebounds were ours.”
The Penguins trailed 2-0 heading into the third period at home for the second consecutive night. They came back to beat Florida 3-2 in a shootout Friday, but only 26 seconds into the third, Zajac made it 3-0 when he flipped a rebound of Parise’s shot into an open net for his fifth of the season.
Brodeur was 10:22 away from his 103rd career shutout – which would have tied Terry Sawchuk’s NHL record – until defenceman Goligoski converted a rebound of Pascal Dupuis’ shot for his third of the season.
“It’s all about winning,” Brodeur said. “We’re going to go through this (discussion about the shutouts record) a lot as we go through games. It will be close a lot where hopefully it’s going to happen, but it will happen eventually. That’s my attitude about it. I’m just happy because this was a big win for us.”
New Jersey did not have a shot on goal for almost 10 minutes to start the game, but Fraser’s second shot of his eight-game career gave the Devils a 1-0 lead.
Fraser, who was on injured reserve since mid-September as the result of a head injury that occurred in a fight during a preseason game, threw an innocent-looking wrist shot on net from the left-wing circle 9:50 into the game that Fleury couldn’t handle and ultimately inadvertently batted back into his own net with his glove.
Fellow rookie Bergfors made it 2-0 with a power-play goal, his second of the season and third of his career, with 5:29 left in the second. Bergfors took the initial shot while he skated down the left wing, circled behind the net and smacked in a loose puck that had gotten behind Fleury in the crease.
Parise added a goal with 3:28 to play to make it 4-1.
“I think they played the way that they wanted to play tonight,” Goligoski said. “And they played better than we did.”
Fleury began the season 8-0 and hadn’t allowed more than two goals in all but two of his previous starts.
“It’s one of those nights that you don’t want to ever happen, but the other team is trying to win, too, and they played well,” veteran Penguins winger Bill Guerin said.
NOTES: Goligoski has a career-high five-game points streak. … Brodeur has 563 career wins. … The Penguins lost for the first time this season when they had at least 30 shots.