NEWARK, N.J. – Jamie Langenbrunner and the streaking New Jersey Devils cut it a bit close – again.
Langenbrunner tied it with 31 seconds left in regulation, then scored his third straight winner with a minute left in overtime as the Devils extended their season-high winning streak to eight games with a 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh on Friday night.
“I deserved a little luck after the first half of the year,” Langenbrunner said after his third straight two-goal game gave him 14 goals, one more than he had all of last season. “That’s the way the game goes. Some times they go in for you, and sometimes they don’t.”
Langenbrunner’s winner was a no-brainer.
Travis Zajac set it up by skating out from the right boards past a Penguin and then feeding a cross-ice pass to Langenbrunner for a shot that caught goalie Marc-Andre Fleury out of position.
It was Langenbrunner’s second straight overtime goal in two nights. He had the winner in Boston on Thursday when the Devils rallied late to tie the game again.
“I don’t think we want to start playing that game,” Langenbrunner said. “I think we feel we are a team that isn’t going to worry about anything. We’re going to keep playing the whole game, especially the last 10 games or so, we’ve done a great job of playing a full game and the results speak for themselves.”
The tying goal with 31 seconds to go was a bit lucky. Langenbrunner came out from behind the net and his backhander in close hit off the skate of Penguins defenceman Ryan Whitney.
“It was a bang-bang play from behind the net,” Langenbrunner said. “I was trying to get open as fast as I can and throw it off somebody or through his pads.”
The way things are going for the Devils and Langenbrunner, the strategy worked to perfection.
Bobby Holik and Brendan Shanahan also scored for New Jersey, which has a five-point lead in the Atlantic Division.
Sidney Crosby, Maxime Talbot and Evgeni Malkin scored for Pittsburgh, which blew a two-goal lead in the final 11:25.
Shanahan started the Devils’ comeback with a power-play goal with 8:01 to play, a shot that came 4 seconds after Petr Sykora was given a double minor for hooking and unsportsmanlike conduct.
“Obviously we came back last night and tonight,” said Shanahan, who has three goals in five games since signing with the Devils. “I noted to somebody last night that was the first time we’ve been behind so I don’t think we’re winning remarkable comeback games. For the most part, what I have seen is all secure victories. It’s nice to be able to win in different ways.”
Until the late heroics, the Penguins seemingly were going to steal a game in which they were outshot 43-16. Crosby and Talbot staked Pittsburgh to a 2-0 lead with goals 20 seconds apart in the first period, and Malkin seemed to lock things up in the third period when he took a pass from Crosby and scored his 20th of the season and the 100th of his career.
“You have to play right through and finish games off,” Crosby said after the Penguins threw away a chance for their fifth win in seven games. “There was a lot of time left on the clock and they had a chance to tie it in a one-goal game so we have to make sure we finish teams off.”
Despite being outshot 19-7 in a first-period in which they had to kill off three penalties, the Penguins took a 2-1 lead.
Talbot got the first one, deflecting a point shot by Whitney about 20 seconds.
A great pass by Malkin set up Crosby for a 1-on-1 chance against Scott Clemmensen, and the Penguins’ captain easily beat the goalie with a backhander to the top of the net for his 19th goal of the season. It marked the first time since Nov. 28-29 that he has scored in consecutive games.
Holik cut the deficit in half less than 90 seconds later with a shot in close after a nice feed from Shanahan.
Malkin scored from the right circle in the third after Crosby sent him in alone.
“It’s so tough,” Malkin said after the Penguins lost a point on a night they seemingly had two. “New Jersey is a good team with great forwards and great defensemen. It’s tough. It’s not good to us.”
Notes: Before the game, the Devils honoured Mike Emrick, their television voice for almost two decades. He recently received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame for his contributions as a broadcaster. … Devils LW Jay Pandolfo was a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game. … Penguins D Brooks Orpik saved a goal early, blocking Brian Gionta’s shot with Fleury out of position. … John Madden saved a goal for New Jersey, pulling a rolling puck off the goal line to deny Minard.