PITTSBURGH (AP) – Taylor Hall beat Matt Murray on a breakaway 27 seconds into overtime to lift the New Jersey Devils to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.
Hall was all alone when Nico Hischier found him with a long lead pass. Hall then slipped the puck between Murray’s legs for his 33rd goal of the season as New Jersey picked up two vital points in the race for one of the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference.
Hall added two assists for New Jersey. Hischier finished with a goal and an assist, and Blake Coleman and Will Butcher also scored for the Devils. Keith Kincaid made 40 stops for the Devils, who finished a season-high six-game road trip 4-2.
Sidney Crosby scored his 25th of the season for Pittsburgh. Brian Dumolin and Phil Kessel scored in the third period as the Penguins erased a two-goal deficit. Murray finished with 30 saves as the Penguins lost for just the second time in their last 17 home games.
New Jersey’s drive to end a six-year playoff drought has stalled since the All-Star break. A lopsided loss in San Jose dropped the Devils to just 13-12 since Jan. 30 and skated onto the ice at PPG Paints Arena with a tenuous grasp on the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Yet whatever issues the Devils have seem to disappear when they play the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions. New Jersey is 3-0 against Pittsburgh this season and recovered after being dominated early by the Penguins. Crosby gave Pittsburgh a quick lead by slamming home a rebound 2:29 into the game – a far cry from the highlight double-tap he flicked to key a victory over Montreal on Wednesday.
Butcher’s sizzling wrist shot from above the left circle 5:15 into the second tied it. When the Penguins failed to convert a 3-on-1, Coleman countered by holding off Pittsburgh’s forward Derick Brassard with his left hand and flicking a backhand by Murray with his right just over 2 minutes later to put New Jersey in front. Just over 90 seconds later, the Devils pushed their lead to 3-1 when Hischier flipped a centering pass into an open net.
Pittsburgh recovered thanks to a spark from an unlikely source: Dumoulin. The defenseman blasted a shot from the point 3:13 into the third for his fifth goal of the season, matching his career total coming into the year. Kessel’s 30th evened it, but Kincaid played brilliantly late to force overtime, when Hall won it.
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