Zach Aston-Reese also scored and Sidney Crosby had two assists for Pittsburgh, which won for the seventh time in nine games. Casey DeSmith made 24 saves as the Penguins snapped a two-game skid.READ MORE: Zajac Signs 1-Day Trade So He Can Retire With New Jersey Devils
“Our collective effort out there has been a lot better,” Rust said. “It’s not just one or two guys going, it’s all five as a unit, all six if you include the goalie. That’s key, obviously you can be working hard out there but if guys are not working as a unit, things might not go your way. We have done a really good job working together.”
Kyle Palmieri scored for New Jersey and Scott Wedgewood made 26 saves in his second consecutive start for the Devils, who had won their previous two games.
Pittsburgh erased a one-goal deficit with two goals in a 1:36 span in the second period.
Rust gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal. He converted a quick forehand-backhand deke before scoring at 6:35. Guentzel and Crosby assisted on the game-deciding goal.
“He was a threat from the drop of the puck,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Crosby, who leads the team in both assists and points. “I thought he had a great game. I thought his line had a great game but he is such a key leader in that aspect of it.”
Aston-Reese evened the score 1 at 4:59 of the second period. The forward corralled a bouncing puck that eluded Devils defenders and slid a shot between the legs of Wedgewood for his sixth goal of the season. Sam Lafferty and Marcus Pettersson assisted.
The Devils failed to score on all four of their power plays, including two in the third period.
“We checked the tape from last game, and we saw what we did wrong when we gave up the goals,” Aston-Reese said. “We just put an emphasis on getting in the shot lane. … We corrected that detail and I thought we were far more aggressive today whenever we got the chance.”
Palmieri opened the scoring at 7:19 of the first period after he crashed the net and buried a rebound. Jesper Bratt delivered a cross-ice feed to set up defenseman Sami Vatanen for a one-time shot. Bratt tied Ty Smith for a team-leading 12th assist on the play and extended his point streak to three games.
“A lot of our shots were kind of one and dones and we had some good chances that we didn’t capitalize on,” Palmieri said. “I think the power play sucked a lot of life out of our team and the guys on it. And you can’t have that, especially in games where you have four power plays. You have to find a way to generate something, whether that’s momentum, goals, shots, good looks, energy, whatever it is. We just didn’t do any of that.”READ MORE: McNeil Blast In 7th Helps Mets Snap 5-Game Losing Streak
Guentzel extended the Penguins’ lead to 3-1 when he redirected Crosby’s shot past Wedgewood at 14:25 of the third period.
“I didn’t even feel we got off to a good start,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “They owned most the first period, they outworked us, outplayed us, outskated us. We were fortunate to come away with a 1-0 lead.
Penguins forward Jared McCann returned to the lineup after missing the previous six games with an upper-body injury. Brandon Tanev did not dress after warming up.
Sullivan said center Evgeni Malkin will be considered week to week after sustaining an injury against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. The alternate captain had an eight-game scoring streak before the injury. … Forward Jason Zucker has resumed skating since an apparent lower-body injury on Feb. 23 against Washington. … Devils forward Nathan Bastian did not play after exiting Thursday’s win with an injury and is considered week to week. … Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood did not dress for a second straight game after aggravating an upper-body injury during warmups Thursday.
The Devils have only six players (Jack Hughes, Andreas Johnsson, Damon Severson, Ty Smith, P.K. Subban and Miles Wood) who have participated in every game this season. Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust are the only Penguins players who have yet to miss a game this season.
This was Sullivan’s 400th game as coach of the Penguins. Only Eddie Johnston (516) and Dan Bylsma (401) have spent more time behind the Penguins bench.
The Penguins and Devils finish a three-game series Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh.MORE NEWS: Wilson Throws 4 Interceptions, Patriots Breeze Past Jets
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