Paul Martin Makes The Devils Pay
Martin returned to the Rock, and made his former team pay. His first point of the night came on the eventual game-winning goal. With Patrik Elias in the box for tripping, the Penguins worked the puck in the Devils zone, and gave it to Martin a the point. Martin sent the puck cross-ice to Kris Letang, who put a shot on net. The puck deflected off of Mark Letestu and Henrik Tallinder, and found its way to the back of the net, giving the Penguins a 2-0 lead at 2:32 of the second period.
But the ex-Devil wasn’t done. Down 2-1 in the third period, and with their goalie out for the extra skater, the Devils were applying pressure in the Penguins zone. But Martin found a way to get the puck past the defense, and as the loose puck rolled into the Devils zone, he picked it up and put it in the net for his first goal of the year.
Martin said he felt bad not setting up teammate Craig Adams for the goal.
“I felt bad after when selfishly I put it in instead of sliding it across,” Martin said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “The puck was rolling, but I still should have flipped it across. to Adams. I think I just got caught up in wanting to make sure I put it in. But I felt bad afterward.”
Martin was booed – loudly – and I don’t blame the crowd for doing so. But he got the last laugh today, and I think that hurts more than him signing somewhere else.
Brent Johnson Stands On His Head
No one expected this type of performance from the Penguin’s backup goalie. Johnson stopped 30 shots – including 14 in the third period – to backstop Pittsburgh to a win. He made great saves tonight, and helped to shut the Devils offense down. His stops, especially on the powerplay, frustrated the Devils all evening long.
The “A-Line Part 2″ Keeps Going Strong
Throughout the first three games, the Devils offense has looked good, especially the top two lines. That continued tonight, with the “A-Line Part 2″ accounting for the only Devils’ goal. If there’s something positive to take out of an 0-2-1 start, it’s that this line has shown they can provide the secondary scoring needed. If this line can continue to build on their early chemistry, coach John MacLean will have some great offensive options.
I attended the game today, and was a little embarrassed at all the empty seats. With a matinee-ish start time and a game against their division rivals, I figured there would be more families at the game. But it was quite empty, and the Penguins fans were out-yelling Devils’ fans at points throughout the game.
Sometimes Ilya Kovalchuk attempts to do too much with the puck, and that happened tonight. With the Devils changing lines, the team only needed a dump into Pittsburgh’s zone. But he held it along the boards in the neutral zone, and he ended up turning the puck over. That led to Pittsburgh’s first goal, and immediately drew the ire of fans. I understand he wants to make the play, but sometimes the smart play is to dump and chase.
For as much flak that Rod Pelley catches from fans, he had a solid start tonight. I think he received a little too much ice time in the third period, but he earned it with his play tonight.
The Devils travel to Buffalo Wednesday to take on the Sabres, still searching for their first win. It’ll be a homecoming for Tallinder, who left Buffalo for New Jersey during the offseason.
Photo Credits: William Pearlman/The Star-Ledger