Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins finally found their stride at home.
Crosby and Chris Kunitz each had a goal and two assists, and Pittsburgh picked up its first victory of the season on home ice by beating the New Jersey Devils 5-1 Saturday.
The Penguins used a relentless forecheck to overwhelm New Jersey in the third period, scoring three times on 10 shots while turning a one-goal game into a rout.
“We were skating a lot and I think that was a big part of it — keeping it simple,” Crosby said. “As a group, I think we made it easier on each other, not just our line, but as a five-man unit. Our D were retrieving pucks and allowing us to get speed through the neutral zone.”
Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo scored his first NHL goal, Brandon Sutter got his first with Pittsburgh and Kris Letang also found the back of the net for the Penguins, who handed the Devils their first loss in regulation this season.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 15 shots for the win. Evgeni Malkin and Pascal Dupuis had two assists apiece.
Andy Greene scored a short-handed goal for the Devils (3-1-3), who were seeking their best seven-game start in a decade. Martin Brodeur was sharp through two periods, stopping 17 of 19 shots, but allowed three goals in the third as New Jersey had trouble with the Penguins’ aggressive forecheck.
“They pressured us with their speed and made us make mistakes,” Brodeur said. “It’s not a fun game when you have a lot of breakdowns like that.”
After winning 21 of their last 24 games at Consol Energy Center last season, the Penguins had been the only NHL team yet to earn a point at home this year. They were outscored 9-3 in losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders.
This time, Pittsburgh looked more like the team that shut out the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night as opposed to the sloppy defensive club that showed up during a 4-1 home loss to the Islanders on Tuesday, when Fleury — second in the NHL last season with 24 home wins — was pulled after two periods.
“We wanted to make sure we stayed focused and maybe brought the same attitude we had on the road at home,” Crosby said.
The Devils were the undisciplined club on Saturday.
New Jersey had some defensive lapses Thursday, allowing three power-play goals during an overtime loss to the Islanders, but the Devils still managed to come away with a point. New Jersey couldn’t get away with it this time despite trailing by only one goal entering the third.
“If you’re going to play like that, you might as well get beat 5- or 6-1 rather than 2-1 and fool yourself,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. “It wasn’t pretty and, against a good team like that, if you don’t show up with your ‘A’ game they can make you look bad, and that’s what happened.”
Sutter staked the Penguins to a 1-0 lead early in the second period, chipping his own rebound over Brodeur’s pads. It was the seventh time in eight games that Pittsburgh scored first.
Kunitz took advantage of a fortunate bounce to give the Penguins a two-goal lead midway through the period. Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov whiffed on a breakout attempt in his own zone and the puck slid to Kunitz, who was there to wrist a shot past Brodeur from between the circles.
The Penguins tried to take a three-goal lead on the power play, but the Devils cut the deficit in half with their NHL-best second short-handed goal of the season. Dainius Zubrus sent a spinning feed along the boards to a streaking Greene in the slot, and he went to the backhand to beat Fleury.
Letang started the third-period outburst less than 3 minutes in, sneaking into the slot to put a shot past Brodeur. Crosby, who has 10 points in his last four games against the Devils, made it 4-1 by finishing a rush down the left-wing boards with a wrist shot.
“It was a 2-1 game at the end of two periods,” DeBoer said. “We came out in the third and had a couple good shifts and a couple opportunities to tie it, but it got away from us.”
Bortuzzo sealed it with the first goal of his career 2 minutes later, when his shot from the point rolled awkwardly between Brodeur’s pads. That sent the sellout crowd at the Consol Energy Center home happy for the first time all season.
“I like that we scored a lot of goals today and came out in the third and got three goals,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “But the way we got them is more indicative of how we played the game.”
NOTES: Penguins LW Zach Boychuk, picked up Thursday off waivers from Carolina, played 12 minutes, most of them alongside Malkin and James Neal. ... Devils D Mark Fayne missed the game with an arm injury, while D Ben Lovejoy, C Dustin Jeffrey and C Eric Tangradi were scratched for the Penguins. ... It was the first of three games between the teams in nine days.
Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins finally found their stride at home.
Jones uses his attitude to lead Polar Bears
When you look around the football field come August, you’ll see plenty of new faces for the Fairmont Senior Polar Bears. But there will be at least one very familiar face.
TJ Jones is one of just a handful of seniors on this year’s Fairmont Senior team, and he’s hoping to go out on top.
WVU, N.C. State to meet in football
Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.
HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention
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FSU football season tickets available
Season ticket packages and VIP parking for the 2014 Fairmont State University football season are now available for purchase.
Several options are available, including the opportunity to purchase a piece of Fairmont State history.
Pirates jump on Haren early, top Dodgers, 6-1
Josh Harrison had two hits with two RBIs and the Pittsburgh Pirates jumped on Dan Haren early in a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
Harrison’s two-run double down the left field line capped a four-run outburst in the first against Haren (8-8).
Berner, Hess lead W.Va. Open
Threatening weather did not strike Wednesday, and it was a cool, breezy start to the 81st West Virginia Open played on the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs.
WVU, Tennessee finalize 2018 meeting
West Virginia University and Tennessee have finalized their season-opening, Sept. 1, 2018, meeting in Charlotte, N.C., at Bank of America Stadium.
Both teams will receive $2.5 million for the game and have a chance to earn up to $3.2 million with ticket incentives.
Each team will buy 12,500 tickets and set aside 2,000 of its allotment for students.
The game, played on the home field of the Carolina Panthers of the NFL, is being put on by the Charlotte Sports Federation.
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You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.
WVU’s Fleming signs contract with Yankees
Second baseman Billy Fleming of the West Virginia University baseball team has signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees, foregoing his upcoming senior season.
“Ever since I was a little kid, it’s been my dream to play professional baseball,” Fleming said. “It is still surreal that I get to chase my dream, but I am ready to get after it. I loved my three years at WVU and want to thank all the coaches that made it possible for me to achieve my dream.”
Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success
In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.
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