NEWARK, N.J. — Bryan Rust scored a tiebreaking goal midway through the second period and the Pittsburgh Penguins continued their playoff push and avoided the embarrassment of being swept by the lowly New Jersey Devils with a 4-3 victory on Tuesday night.
Defenceman Chad Ruhwedel, Nick Bjugstad and Zach Aston-Reese also scored for Pittsburgh, which has won four of its last five in its bid to make the playoffs for the 13th straight year. The streak is the longest active playoff run in the NHL.
Murray Comes Up Big
Matt Murray made 33 saves, including 15 in the third period, to help the Penguins salvage the final game in the four-game season series.
Jesper Bratt, Marcus Johansson and Miles Wood scored for the Devils, who had a two-game winning streak snapped. Keith Kinkaid had 24 saves in losing to the Penguins for the first time in four games this season.
Rust broke a 2-all tie at 10:45 with a shot from the inside of the right circle after a great rush up the ice by Jake Guentzel. Kinkaid got a piece of the shot but the puck squirted through his pads and rolled into the net.
Ruhwedel, who just returned to the lineup after sitting out since Nov. 19, got his first of the season and what proved to be the game-winner on a shot from the point that found the top corner of the net with 2 1/2 minutes to go in the second.
Wood closed the gap to a goal with 4:50 to play on a slow shot that somehow got under Murray’s stick.
The Devils twice took one-goal leads in the first period only to see the Penguins tie the game.
Bratt scored for the second straight game to put New Jersey ahead early. Crosby extended his points scoring streak to six games by setting up Aston-Reese in front four minutes later to tie the score.
Johansson restored the lead when he stripped the puck from Phil Kessel in the Penguins zone and beat Murray with a backhander up high. Bjugstad scored on a power play with 1:36 left in the period for his second goal since being acquired from Florida on Feb. 1.
NOTES: The Devils gave the first 9,000 fans in attendance a David Puddy bobblehead. He’s the Seinfeld television show character portrayed by Patrick Warburton, who painted his face in Devils’ colours in an episode and shouted “We’re the Devils.” … Travis Zajac appeared in his 900th game with the Devils. … Penguins Matt Cullen will tie Phil Housley for third most games (1,495) by an American-born player the next time he takes the ice. … The Devils activated F Blake Coleman off injured reserve and assigned F Nick Lappin to Binghamton (AHL).
Penguins: Return home to host San Jose on Thursday night.
Devils: End a three-game homestand against Ottawa on Thursday night.
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Tom Canavan, The Associated Press