Pittsburgh Takes Another Tough Loss, Meier and Mercer Score Two Each | 3/19/2024

Photo via New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, March 19th at the Prudential Center. New Jersey had a strong game with the lead early and defeated the Penguins 5-2 to break their two-game losing streak. Pittsburgh has been struggling lately with on-and-off losses, and the Devils also have been struggling with the losses as well. Both teams are currently fighting for a spot in the playoffs, but unfortunately, the Penguins didn’t defend hard enough. Dawson Mercer and Timo Meier each scored two goals in the Devils’ victory, and Tristan Jarry made 33 saves for Pittsburgh.

Penguins lineup against the Devils:

O’Connor – Crosby – Rust

Bunting – Malkin – Rakell

Smith – Eller – Puustinen

Gruden – Acciari – Bemstrom

Pettersson – Letang

Graves – Karlsson

Ludvig – Joseph

Jarry

Nedeljkovic

Devils lineup against the Penguins:

Meier – Hischier – Bratt

Hughes – Haula – Holtz

Palat – Nosek – Mercer

Willman – Tierney – Lazar

Hughes – DeSimone

Bahl – Smith

Hatakka – Nemec

Allen

Kahkonen

   New Jersey got the lead early at 14:25 when Dawson Mercer scored his 18th goal of the season. He skated down the middle after receiving a pass at the blue line, and then Ryan Graves unintentionally brushed the puck off his stick and into his own net. This had been the only goal scored in the first period… Jake Allen, who has been making back-to-back starts for the first time since October 2021-23 when he’d been playing for the Montreal Canadiens, made 12 saves in the opening 20. His best save of the period, and probably even the game, occurred when he dived to the right to stop Sidney Crosby from getting a goal into the open net.

   Marcus Pettersson put the Penguins on the board at 12:44 of the second period to tie the game 1-1. Pettersson recorded his fourth of the season with a slap shot from the point. At 5:40, Timo Meier put New Jersey back on top during the power play from the slot with a waist-high tip-in.

   Alexander Holtz stuffed in a rebound at 11:02 of the third to make it a 3-1 lead for New Jersey, it was Holtz’s 15th goal of the season. Only 16 seconds later, Dawson Mercer put his second of the night and his 19th of the season home off a wrist shot for a three-goal lead. Timo Meier whacked in a rebound of a shot by Jesper Bratt for his second of the game to put the Devils up 5-1… With 2:45 left in regulation, Bryan Rust scored on a backhand for his 21st of the season and for the 5-2 final.

Luke Hughes on the Devils’ victory and Jake Allen: “I think at this point in the season, we haven’t really put ourselves in the best position, but the guys still believe and we got to get every point we possibly can. So, a big two points tonight and we got to keep it going,” – “He’s played great all three games he’s played and it’s great when we have the confidence back there. We need to keep playing that way.”

Tristan Jarry on the game and the loss, and what’s giving the Penguins trouble: “I think they were just playing a fast game. I don’t think we could’ve kept up and they obviously got some chances out of it, and we weren’t able to defend it,” – “It’s tough to say – We obviously have a game plan against them and I think our game plan is pretty solid, but obviously when we’re not executing and they’re getting a couple more opportunities than us, I think they’re just able to score.”

Notes:

–  The following players all recorded two assists: Jack Hughes, Luke Hughes, Ondrej Palat, Jesper Bratt, and Tomas Nosek.

– Jake Allen made a total of 36 saves for New Jersey.

– Dawson Mercer became one of eight players in team history to record 60-plus career goals (63) before the age of 23. Mercer joins Kirk Muller (128), Jack Hughes (108), Pat Verbeek (98), Brendan Shanahan (88), John MacLean (70), Petr Sykora (68), and Nico Hischier (63).

– Timo Meier became the third Switzerland-born player to have at least six 20-goal seasons, he has 21 this season… Nino Niederreiter, seven times; Kevin Fiala, six times.

– Sidney Crosby had an assist, recording his 69th point this season. He’s one shy of being the first active player, as well as the ninth player in NHL history to have at least 14 70-point seasons.

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