Posted January 07, 2012 on AP on Fox
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Ilya Kovalchuk and Adam Henrique each had a goal and an assist and the New Jersey Devils handed the Pittsburgh Penguins their fourth consecutive loss, 3-1 on Saturday night. Dainius Zubrus also scored, Zach Parise had two assists and Martin Brodeur made 41 saves for the Devils, who beat the Penguins for the second time in eight days and moved past them into sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Pittsburgh has scored a total of five goals in losing its past four - all to Atlantic Division opponents. It's the Penguins' longest losing streak in more than two years. Evgeni Malkin scored for Pittsburgh. Four weeks ago, the Penguins were in first place in the Eastern Conference. For the third time during their skid, the Penguins took a 1-0 lead during the opening six minutes only to lose it. Pittsburgh was 14-3-3 when scoring first before the losing streak began Dec. 29. The Penguins also have outshot each of their past four opponents, including a 42-27 edge Saturday. But playing without star Sidney Crosby as he deals with his concussion, finishing hasn't come easy. Malkin scored 4:48 into the game on a one-timed slap shot from the point off a feed from Paul Martin. It was his first goal since the December NHL player of the month had a hat trick Dec. 17. But that was the only goal that Brodeur allowed in improving to 44-25-5 lifetime against Pittsburgh. Counterpart Marc-Andre Fleury, who grew up in Quebec idolizing Brodeur, made 24 saves in a losing effort appearing in his 400th game. Fleury had a shutout going through 28 minutes, but an awful Pittsburgh power play ended that bid. The league leader in short-handed goals, the Devils had three breakaways on Fleury during a Penguins' power play midway through the second - the second of which resulting in Henrique's 12th goal of the season. Fleury stopped the rookie's initial shot, but before he could cover the puck, Henrique poked it loose and swatted it into the net. It was the Devils' ninth short-handed goal of the season, Henrique's third -- tied with Parise for second in the league. New Jersey, with the league's best penalty kill, did not allow a goal on either of Pittsburgh's power plays. The Devils have been outscored only 10-7 while playing 4 on 5 this season. Less than three minutes later, Kovalchuk scored his 15th on a similar shot from a similar spot on the ice as Malkin. Zubrus added a power-play tally, his 12th, 1:28 into the third. That made it 3-1. Already without its captain in Crosby, Pittsburgh was down another center. Jordan Staal was injured as a result of a knee-to-knee hit from the Rangers' Mike Rupp in a loss on Friday. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said the severity of the injury had yet to be determined. Notes: RW Nick Palmieri played 7:17 for the Devils after being recalled from Albany of the AHL earlier in the day. The club placed D Anton Volchenkov on injured reserve due to a lower body strain. ... Penguins C Dustin Jeffrey took part in the optional morning skate, cleared to take to the ice with his teammates for the first time since he sustained a knee injury on Nov. 3. ... The most recent time the Penguins had endured even a three-game skid was losing five consecutive Dec. 27, 2009-Jan. 3, 2010. ... Despite losing two straight earlier this week, New Jersey is 11-4-1 in its past 16. ... Parise has five points in his past three games.
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