for this game

Ruutu, Thibault help Penguins stop Devils

Mar 15, 2007 - 3:52 AM
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- In their chase for the Atlantic Division lead, the Pittsburgh Penguins watched two unsung players pick up the slack for their young stars.

Backup goaltender Jocelyn Thibault stopped 24 shots for his first shutout since 2003 and Jarkko Ruutu scored the decisive goal and set up an insurance marker as the Penguins moved within four points of first place in the division with a 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils.

The Devils (42-20-8) had their eyes on the Buffalo Sabres (44-19-6), who are two points ahead of them for the lead in the Eastern Conference. But instead they watched the Penguins close the gap in the Atlantic behind Thibault, whose had gone 47 games without a shutout since October 8th, 2003. It was his 37th career shutout.

It's tremendous, it's awesome, Thibault said. It's been a while. It's been a long road back, having all those hip injuries. I had three hip surgeries, and there was the lockout, too. It feels even sweeter to be back like this.

Pittsburgh (39-21-10) jumped past the idle Ottawa Senators (40-23-7) into fourth place in the East, beating the top two teams in the conference on consecutive nights.

The way we played again tonight, I was really impressed, Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. We need to start to get in the playoff mood. Tonight we had the right attitude to approach that game. Those young guys, they keep surprising a lot of people.

Martin Brodeur finished with 19 saves for New Jersey, which lost at home for the fourth straight game despite a disciplined effort in which they put the potent Penguins on the power play just once.

We having problems in our own building for some reason, Brodeur said. I don't know.

The defeat was costly for the Devils, who lost their leading scorer, left wing Patrik Elias, and checking center John Madden to groin injuries. The Devils play Thursday at Carolina and the status for both players is not determined.

New Jersey has been without right wing Brian Gionta, who is second on the team in goals, for most of the last three weeks.

You're always concerned about injuries, especially this time of year, Devils coach Claude Julien said. We've been through a lot this year and we've battled through it.

The game was scoreless and penalty-free past the midway point. After the Devils killed off a Pittsburgh power play, Ruutu was whistled for roughing at 14:14 of the second.

Roughly three minutes later Ruutu, taking a spot on Sidney Crosby's wing because Ryan Malone had killed the penalty and then taken his regular shift, was in the right corner when his centering attempt hit the stick of the Devils' Travis Zajac, changed direction and eluded Brodeur to the short side to break the Penguins on top.

(Ruutu) came to the bench and I told him to stay on the ice, because usually Ryan Malone is playing with (Sidney) Crosby and (Mark) Recchi, Therrien said. Malone was at the end of his shift, so we asked Ruutu to stay on the ice and he ends up scoring the winning goal.

Crosby was given an assist on the goal by Ruutu, who has seven tallies on the season and netted his last three in New Jersey.

Ruutu was not done in the third period, when his perfect backhand pass set up Eric Christensen for a one-time slap shot from the top of the left circle that blazed over Brodeur's left shoulder to make it 2-0 with 10:29 remaining.

It was the 14th goal of the season for Christensen and the first assist in a month for Ruutu.

Jordan Staal, an 18-year-old rookie, added an insurance goal with 2:36 remaining for Pittsburgh, which has won two straight here. Staal has 28 goals, one shy of Crosby and three off the pace of team leader and fellow rookie Evgeni Malkin.

The Penguins had played past regulation time in five straight games and, for just the second time in their last 17, did not play a contest decided by one goal.

Barring a playoff meeting, this was the Penguins' last game at the Continental Airlines Arena.

The Devils had the best chance of the first period against Thibault, when Scott Gomez slipped behind the defense and deked Thibault to the ice, only to shoot the puck off the right post.

I couldn't settle the puck and Thibault did a great job of staying with it, Gomez said. I just can't buy one, and I hit the post.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 0 1 2 3
    NEW JERSEY 0 0 0 0 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: PIT - JARKKO RUUTU 7 (SIDNEY CROSBY) 17:18
    3RD PRD: PIT - ERIK CHRISTENSEN 14 (JARKKO RUUTU, ALAIN NASREDDINE)
    9:31
    PIT - JORDAN STAAL 28 (EVGENI MALKIN, MICHEL OUELLET) 17:24
    POWER-PLAY CONVERSIONS: PI

    Mar 14 9:54 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 3
    NEW JERSEY 0
    3RD PRD: PIT - JORDAN STAAL 28 (EVGENI MALKIN, MICHEL OUELLET) 17:24

    Penguins vs. DevilsMar 14 9:52 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 2
    NEW JERSEY 0
    3RD PRD: PIT - ERIK CHRISTENSEN 14 (JARKKO RUUTU, ALAIN NASREDDINE)
    9:31

    Penguins vs. DevilsMar 14 9:33 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 0 1 1
    NEW JERSEY 0 0 0 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: PIT - JARKKO RUUTU 7 (UNASSISTED) 17:18
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PIT 11 5 16
    NJD 11 7 18
    GOALIES: PIT - JOCELYN THIBAULT
    NJ

    Mar 14 9:03 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 1
    NEW JERSEY 0
    2ND PRD: PIT - JARKKO RUUTU 7 (UNASSISTED) 17:18

    Penguins vs. DevilsMar 14 8:58 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 0 0
    NEW JERSEY 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PIT 11 11
    NJD 11 11
    GOALIES: PIT - JOCELYN THIBAULT
    NJD - MARTIN BRODEUR

    Mar 14 8:10 PM