Posted February 08, 2013 on AP on Fox
The Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils are looking like two of the top contenders to come out of the Eastern Conference. The Penguins hope their offense - one of the league's best - will come through again Saturday as they visit the Devils and their stifling defense. Pittsburgh's 3.5 goals per game and New Jersey's 2.1 goals-against average are both among the top marks in the NHL. It was the Penguins breaking through the Devils' defense for a 5-1 home victory last Saturday, the second win on the team's five-game run. After a 3-3-0 start, Pittsburgh (8-3-0) is resembling the squad that boasted last season's top scoring offense. During their winning streak, the Penguins are putting 16.6 percent of their shots in the back of the net, averaging 4.6 goals. They scored 2.7 goals per game over their first six contests. Sidney Crosby tallied three points while leading Pittsburgh to a five-goal second period in a 5-2 home win over Washington on Thursday. Crosby, whose 12 assists are tied for second in the NHL, had a goal and two assists to increase his point streak to six games. "I think right now we're confident in the way we're playing and believe in the way we're playing," said Crosby, whose streak is the longest since registering a point in 25 straight contests from Nov. 5-Dec. 28, 2010. An improved power play, with adjustments from coach Dan Bylsma, has helped fuel the Penguins' streak. After scoring on 22.7 percent of their advantages through their first six games, they're 7 of 19 (36.8 percent) on power plays over the last five. Bylsma shifted forward James Neal to play closer to the net while giving Crosby more freedom to operate. Pittsburgh scored on three of four power plays against Washington, its third straight game with at least one power-play goal. "As long is everybody is working and we're shooting the puck, good things will happen," Neal said. The Penguins, however, went 0 for 3 with the man advantage against New Jersey last week. Crosby had a goal and an assist in that one giving him three goals and seven assists in his last four games versus the Devils. New Jersey (6-1-3) has since bounced back from last Saturday's defeat - its most lopsided loss of the season - outscoring opponents 10-3 during a three-game winning streak. The Devils are giving up 22.0 shots per game during their run after yielding 4.0 goals per game on 31.3 shots during an 0-1-3 stretch. The Penguins had 30 shots. The Devils held Tampa Bay - which came in scoring on 32.5 percent of its power-play opportunities - scoreless on four chances with the extra skater in a 4-2 home victory Thursday. New Jersey has killed all 19 penalties in its last four games. "I think it's just getting effort from everyone," captain Bryce Salvador told NHL's official website. "Everyone is buying in and everyone is sacrificing to get the job done. When things weren't going our way earlier in the season, we needed to work harder because when you're not working hard, you create bad bounces." An appearance on Saturday would mark goaltender Martin Brodeur's 1,200th career game. The four-time Vezina Trophy winner, who is 5-1-2 with a 2.44 goals-against average this season, stopped 25 shots against the Penguins last weekend dropping to 0-3-0 with a 4.70 GAA in the last three in the series. Penguins All-Star defenseman Kris Letang was a late scratch against the Capitals due to a lower-body injury. Letang has recorded nine points - including a goal versus New Jersey - in 10 games.

Brodeur tumbles for acrobatic save

When Martin Brodeur lost his stick during the New Jersey / Pittsburgh game on Saturday afternoon, no one could have guessed the hilarity we'd be in for. After declining a stick from his defenseman, Brodeur made a couple more saves without his stick before the Devils were finally able to clear the zone. Brodeur went to the corner to retrieve his stick while the Penguins hurriedly...

FAREWELL: Ben Lovejoy

This was the logical move given how well Despres and Bortuzzo have played. And, really, Lovejoy was never gonna see the ice again. With Matt Niskanen set to return in a few weeks, the Pens had to make a move. Shero has turned an undrafted fringe 6th-defenseman into a 5th-round pick.  Sold. More: Ben Lovejoy, by all accounts, was a really nice dude. Even stole an episode...

Devils not sending Matteau back to junior team

The New Jersey Devils are keeping first-round draft pick Stefan Matteau with the NHL team for now. The Devils put the 18-year-old Matteau in the lineup for Thursday night's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, marking his sixth game of the regular season. The decision means that the first year of his contract kicks in for this lockout-shortened 48-game season. Matteau can...

Devils keeping Matteau on roster

The New Jersey Devils are keeping first-round draft pick Stefan Matteau with the NHL team for now. The Devils put the 18-year-old Matteau in the lineup for Thursday night's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, marking his sixth game of the regular season. The decision means that the first year of his contract kicks in for this lockout-shortened 48-game season. Matteau can...

Pittsburgh Penguins Gameday 12 - New Jersey Devils

Pittsburgh Penguins (8-3-0) @ New Jersey Devils (6-1-3) ROOT, MSG PLUS, NHLN-US - 1:00 pm/et Prudential Center - Newark, NJ This is the quarter-point of the Pens' 2013 season (12x4=48). It's also the first game of a home-and-home against the Devils. The Pens are currently one point ahead of the Devils in the standings for the Atlantic Division and Eastern...

Roger Mussa: Devils at the quarter mark

After the first of a joke-and-home against the mighty Penguins the Devils find themselves with 17 points. Thats good for top of the Atlantic Division, top of the Eastern Conference and second only to the Blackhawks in the NHL. (I am writing mid day with many NHL games to go thus standings will change. Yes, the same New Jersey Devils that were in the Stanley Cup Finals and did nothing...

Pittsburgh Penguins Gameday 11 - Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals (2-7-1) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (7-3-0) ROOT, NHLN-US. CSN-DC - 7:00 pm/et Consol Energy Center - Pittsburgh, PA This feels almost exactly like the kind of game that the Penguins overlook, doesn't it? The struggling Capitals visit Pittsburgh. The Penguins have won four-in-a-row. The Pens have a big home-and-home with the Devils coming up...

Hockey Day in Canada trending on Twitter

MUST READ: Viewers guide to @scotiahockey Hockey Day in Canada (Canada & U.S.) #HockeyDay— NHL (@NHL) February 9, 2013 “@kdraper33: Just want to wish all the hockey dads and moms a happy "Hockey Day in Canada". We thank you for your commitment.”True Drapes!— Kevin Weekes (@KevinWeekes) February 9, 2013 Congrats to Martin Brodeur for playing...

Todd Cordell: NHL Gameday Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning @ New Jersey Devils - Game 10

Match-up - Tampa Bay Lightning (6-3-0) @ New Jersey Devils (5-1-3) Road/Home records - 1-2-0 -------------- 3-0-1 TV - SUN, MSG Plus Puck drop - 7:00 PM ET Season series - Tied 0-0 Last 10: Lightning 6-3-0 / Devils 5-1-3 Projected starting goalies - Anders Lindback (TB) vs. Martin Brodeur (NJ) Battle of the stats Goals for/against per game Tampa Bay - 4.44 / 2.56...

Playing it too safe: NHL refs changing games by overreacting to big hits

By now, if you're a fan of hockey in the slightest, you've noticed a glaring initiative by officials to protect the game's players. Concussion awareness and player safety have been hot-button issues for years ever since devastating injuries to Marc Savard and Sidney Crosby. But as hard as the league has been coming down on players for hitting players in defenseless...

Top Sweater Sales

from ESPN, Top player jersey sales on for January, according to a Sports Business Daily story that cites 1 Flyers RW Claude Giroux 2 Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews 3 Penguins C Sidney Crosby 4 Rangers RW Ryan Callahan 5 Penguins LW James Neal  continued (for 20 more)
NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.