Mackenzie Blackwood Stops 38 Shots; Devils Top Penguins 2-1

NEWARK, N.J. — Mackenzie Blackwood made 38 saves as the New Jersey Devils beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 on Friday night.

Travis Zajac and Blake Coleman scored for the Devils.

Jack Johnson scored for Penguins, and Matt Murray made 19 saves.

It was Pittsburgh’s first game without star centre Sidney Crosby, who is expected to miss at least six weeks following surgery for a core muscle injury.

Zajac scored the only goal of the opening period at 6:59, converting a setup in the slot from Jesper Bratt.

The goal ended a 10-game point drought for Zajac, the longest in the veteran centre’s career.

Travis Zajac New Jersey Devils
Travis Zajac, New Jersey Devils (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Blackwood kept the Penguins off the board with a several close-in stops, denying Nick Bjugstad and Jake Guentzel.

Blackwood continued to shine in the second period, stopping all 15 Pittsburgh shots. He nimbly shifted his 6-foot-4 frame to stop Brandon Tanev and Brian Dumoulin.

Blackwood got added support when Coleman scored with 4.1 second remaining in the period to give the Devils a 2-0 lead. Coleman shot from the left wing, and Murray made the save. But, the puck wound up sitting in the crease. Coleman was first on the scene to knock in his own rebound for an unassisted goal.

In the third, Pittsburgh came close early when Guentzel hit the post.

Penguins forward Jake Guentzel
Penguins forward Jake Guentzel (Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

The Penguins finally broke through with a goal from an unlikely source. Johnson jumped into the play and scored from the left dot. It was defenceman’s first goal in 92 games, cutting the Devils lead to 2-1.


Crosby isn’t the only significant injured player for Pittsburgh. Both D Kris Letang and RW Patric Hornqvist are sidelined with lower-body injuries. .. The Devils placed D Sami Vatanen on injured reserve (upper body) retroactive to Nov. 8 and recalled D Colton White from Binghamton (AHL). … Penguins C Alex Galchenyuk played his 500th game. … The Devils honoured service members on Military Appreciation Night.


Penguins: Host Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Devils: At Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.


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Mike Farrell, The Associated Press