The Matchup – The Pittsburgh Penguins (0-2-0) face off against the New Jersey Devils (0-1-1) in an afternoon matchup at the Prudential Center. This is the first meeting between the two teams this season.
The Last Penguins Game – The Penguins lost to the Montreal Canadiens, 2-1, Saturday night at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. The Penguins held a 2-1 lead late in the third period, but Michael Cammalleri‘s second goal tied the game with 3:12 left in the period. Scott Gomez completed the comeback, beating Marc-Andre Fleury with 1:48 left in the period to put the Canadiens ahead, 3-2.
The Last Devils Game – The Devils were blown out by the Capitals, 7-2, at the Verizon Center Saturday. The Devils led, 2-1, after one period on goals from Jason Arnott and Henrik Tallinder. But the wheels would fall off in the second period, as the Capitals tallied four unanswered goal – including three in less than five minutes – to move ahead 5-2. Martin Brodeur was pulled after the second period.
Last Season’s Matchup – The Devils swept all six meetings from the Penguins last season. The Devils won the most recent matchup, 5-2, on March 17. After Chris Kunitz gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 4:01 of the first period, the Devils scored four unanswered goals – including Paul Martin’s first goal of the season – to take the lead, 4-1. Ruslan Fedotenko made it a two goal game at 5:23 of the third period, but the Devils held off the Penguins. Rob Niedermayer added an empty-netter for insurance in the win. For an in-depth look at the rivalry, click here.
The Return of Martin – Martin visits the Rock for the first time as a Pittsburgh Penguin. During the offseason, Martin signed with the Penguins after realizing the Devils were focused solely on Ilya Kovalchuk. The defenseman told Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger that he never received an offer from the Devils, deciding to go with Pittsburgh over several other teams. I’d expect him to be booed, especially since he stayed within the division.
Today’s Matchup – I think it’s obvious what the Devils need to do. The team has played awful defense, giving up quality scoring chances left and right. Both the Stars and the Capitals made the Devils pay for their mistakes, and the Penguins are another team that can score in bunches. I know the team wants to get going on offense, but they need to be responsible defensively. If the Devils continue to play sloppy in their own zone, I think we can expect another disappointing result.
This game against Pittsburgh, while early in the season, still means something to both teams. By the end of the season, both of these teams should be near the top of the conference and division. Over the past few years, they’ve battled it out for conference seeding and division crowns. The rivalry is intense, and with both teams without a win, expect a hard-fought game. I wouldn’t expect the Devils to come out flat for this one.
Game time is 4 p.m. today, and you can catch the action on MSG Plus and WFAN 660.