By John Schweibacher
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After putting an end to their longest losing streak in four years, the New Jersey Devils wound up doing something no NHL team had done in over 80 years in a pair of losses this past weekend.
The Devils lost to the Blue Jackets, 4-1, Sunday afternoon at the Prudential Center. Lukas Sedlak and Brandon Dubinsky each scored a penalty-shot goal for Columbus in the win. The Elias Sports Bureau noted that it was only the third game in NHL history in which two goals were scored on penalty shots by either one team or both teams combined.
The previous two instances were on Feb. 11, 1982, when Thomas Gradin and Ivan Hlinka of the Canucks scored penalty-shot goals against the Red Wings and goalie Gilles Gilbert in a 4-4 tie, and again on Dec. 30, 2009, as future Devil Ryane Clowe and Joe Thornton of the Sharks did the same vs. the Capitals with Michal Neuvirth in net in a 5-2 San Jose win.
New Jersey, who previously had Keith Kinkaid stop a Phil Kessel penalty shot in Friday night’s 6-4 loss at Pittsburgh, also became the first team since the New York Americans on Dec. 11 and 13, 1934, to face three penalty shots over a two-game span. Americans goalie Roy Worters stopped all three Boston penalty shots in those two games, denying Eddie Shore, “Dit” Clapper and Nels Stewart of the Bruins. (Thanks to KronishSports.com for this info.)
Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 saves in the 4-1 win on Sunday afternoon. The Blue Jackets goalie had 20 saves in a 3-0 win at “The Rock” on March 5 and 33 saves in a 2-0 win at Columbus two days later. Even with the four goals he allowed in a 5-1 home-ice loss to New Jersey on Feb. 2, Bobrovsky stopped 113 of 118 Devils shots against him this season, a .958 save percentage.
On Friday night, the Devils lost to the Penguins, 6-4, in Pittsburgh. Kyle Palmieri increased his goal streak to three games when he opened the scoring for New Jersey in the first period and scored again on the power play in the third period.
It was the seventh two-goal game over the last two seasons for Palmieri. The last Devils player to have at least that many games with two or more goals over consecutive seasons was Ilya Kovalchuk, who had eight spanning 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Sidney Crosby scored twice in the win to bring his career total against the Devils to 30 in 56 games. According to Elias, the Penguins’ captain became the seventh player to score at least 30 career goals against the Devils since the franchise moved to New Jersey in 1982, joining Mike Gartner (50), Mario Lemieux (47), Pat LaFontaine (37), Jaromir Jagr (36), Tomas Sandstrom (35) and Mark Recchi (34).
The Devils improved to 3-0 against the Flyers this season and 4-6-0 all-time in their retro red and green jerseys with a 6-2 win over Philadelphia on Thursday night in Newark.
The victory ended New Jersey’s 10-game losing streak. It was the second time in the last four seasons the Devils beat the Flyers to end a skid of that length. On April 18, 2013, New Jersey broke an 0-6-4 winless streak with a 3-0, Martin Brodeur shutout at Philadelphia.
On Thursday night, Steve Mason took the loss for the Flyers, allowing four goals before leaving with leg cramps in the third period. Mason is now 0-9-0 in 11 career games against New Jersey.
Former Devil Corey Schwab is the only other goalie to go winless in at least eight career games against the Devils, having gone 0-7-0 in his eight career games versus New Jersey while playing for Tampa Bay and Toronto.
Plus: 1-for-1. Kinkaid stopped the penalty-shot attempt by Pittsburgh’s Kessel in the loss Friday night. It was the first penalty shot he has faced in his NHL career.
Minus: 2-for-2. New Jersey opponents had been 0-for-3 this season on penalty shots prior to the two Columbus scored Sunday. It was the first time in Devils history that an opponent was given two penalty shot opportunities in a single game.