NHL - Devils close gap on Penguins

Reuters - Sat, 13 Mar 06:23:00 2010

The New Jersey Devils beat Pittsburgh 3-1 on Friday to move within two points of the Atlantic Division leading Penguins in the standings.

Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils - 0

With the score tied at 1-1 after two periods, the Devils moved ahead in the third on goals from Andy Greene, his first in 36 games, and Ilya Kovalchuk (pictured), though the Penguins were upset the Russian's goal was allowed to stand.

Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury argued that Devils center Travis Zajac had prevented him from saving Kovalchuk's shot.

"I'll watch what I say. I guess the referee didn't see it," Fleury said. "You can clearly see on the replay that he pushed my glove away from the puck and that's interference." Zajac admitted he had impeded Fleury.

"I kind of interfered a little. I got my stick in his glove when he was trying to make the save," Zajac said. "I was just going to the net and my stick got stuck in his glove."

Devils goalie Martin Brodeur continued his good form against the Penguins this season, improving his record to 5-0 against Pittsburgh by making 34 saves, including 15 in the final period.

Patrik Elias opened the scoring for New Jersey just 1:43 into the game before Sidney Crosby tied the score 42 seconds later with his 45th of the season. Greene put the Devils 2-1 up early in the third.

"It was the exact same play I had in the first period when I hit the crossbar. It was 'grip it and rip it,'" Greene said. "I had a good lane. I was at the blue line. I probably walked in 15 feet and let it rip."

A rough second period saw 49 minutes in penalties assessed, 33 against the Penguins.

The highlight of the period was a penalty shot awarded to Kovalchuk after he was tripped by Penguins defenseman Kris Letang. Kovalchuk attacked the net from the left but Fleury blocked his scoring attempt with his pad.

"It's not my favourite part of the game. I have to be better than that," Kovalchuk said.

Full results

NEW JERSEY 3-1 Pittsburgh; Tampa Bay 3-2 WASHINGTON; Minnesota 3-2 BUFFALO; NY Rangers 5-2 ATLANTA; Los Angeles 2-1 DALLAS (SO); Nashville 1-0 ANAHEIM (SO denotes shootout win).

Reuters

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