Bratt’s OT winner carries Devils past Penguins, 2-1
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jesper Bratt scored on a wraparound at 2:50 of overtime and the New Jersey Devils beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 on Sunday.
Bratt took a pass from Pavel Zacha and quickly circled the net, tucking a shot between the post and the skate of Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry for his first career overtime game-winner.
“(Jarry) was kind of covering everything for me to shoot at, and I didn’t want to force a bad-angle shot, so I just tried to wrap it,” Bratt said. “I saw he kind of got caught with one of his legs that he couldn’t push through to the other side and I saw my chance to wrap around quick.”
The Devils won for the third time in four games. They won for the second time in three games against Pittsburgh since Sunday’s game was the third consecutive meeting between the teams. The Devils had three wins in their previous 13 games before Sunday.
Bratt scored his second of the season and continued a four-game point streak, while Sami Vatanen also scored his second of the season for New Jersey. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 35 shots for the Devils. He played his first game since aggravating an upper-body injury during warmups on Thursday.
“Mackenzie came up huge for us and had some big saves,” Bratt said. “I think we played harder as a group. We wanted to compete and we wanted to win.”
Sidney Crosby scored his 12th of the season for Pittsburgh. The Penguins lost for the third time in four games, following a six-game win streak. Jarry made 33 saves for Pittsburgh.
“We generated some decent changes, but we couldn’t capitalize,” Crosby said. “It was a close game and in overtime anything can happen. We had our looks and we didn’t put them in.”
Crosby opened the scoring at 3:37 of the first period. He was near the goal line when he took a cross-ice pass from Jake Guentzel and snuck a shot between Blackwood’s outstretched skate and the post.
“It was disappointing to have that first goal go in, but I thought our response was really good,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “We stuck with it and we got rewarded by the end of the game.”
Vatanen tied the game at 4:48 of the second period. The Devils swarmed the Pittsburgh net following a power play and Vatanen converted when his slap shot beat Jarry to the glove side. Vatanen, who is one point from 200 in the NHL, has points in three of his past four games.
The Devils played their sixth of 11 back-to-back sets on Sunday. They are winless in the first six games (0-6-0), but improved to 3-2-1 in the second game following Sunday’s overtime win.
“It felt like, overall, the whole game, as a team, we had a good game,” Bratt said. “It was a good bounce-back for us from (Saturday’s) game, and to end it like this with an overtime win was great.”
DEVILS POST UP
The Devils hit a post three times through the first two periods.
Yegor Sharangovich hit the post off the rush in the first 20 seconds of the game. He hit another post 30 seconds after the Devils’ first goal. Zacha also put a shot off the crossbar on a short-handed attempt in the second period with the game tied 1-1.
“I was a little frustrated that we hit posts,” Ruff said. “We hit crossbars, we hit a post right off the start on the first shift … even on the shift we scored, it looked like we weren’t going to score, but eventually we did. It’s still kind of bothering us, putting pucks in the back of the net when we’re having good outings.”
CROSBY COMING THROUGH
Crosby has stepped up with Evgeni Malkin out of the lineup, with a lower-body injury.
Crosby has 62 goals and 176 points in 145 games played without Malkin. Last season, Crosby had six goals and 18 points in 12 games without Malkin. This season, Crosby has one goal and three points in three games without Malkin, who had an eight-game scoring streak before sustaining his injury last Tuesday against Boston.
Pittsburgh has been without winger Jason Zucker since Feb. 23. The Penguins also recently lost center Teddy Blueger in the last week, while forward Brandon Tanev missed his second straight game on Sunday.
“We’re getting consistent offensive production from Crosby’s line, but it would help if we could get some more from the bottom nine,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “That’s one of our challenges right now. We have a fair amount of guys out, so this is a great opportunity for guys to step up and contribute.”
New Jersey continues a six-game road trip Tuesday at Philadelphia.
Pittsburgh closes the month with four home games, starting Wednesday against Buffalo.