PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust each scored their 20th goal of the season, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Saturday.
Crosby got an empty-netter with 0.1 seconds to play. His goal came following a tense net-mouth scramble in which the Devils nearly tied the game.
Crosby surpassed Evgeni Malkin and Mario Lemieux for the most 20-plus goal seasons in franchise history. He’s the 36th player in NHL history to have 13 or more 20-plus goal seasons.
Jeff Carter scored his 10th of the season and second in three games since Pittsburgh acquired the veteran forward in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings. Casey DeSmith stopped 34 shots and Jared McCann scored a power-play goal for the Penguins, who have 13 wins and points in 15 of their last 18 games overall.
Pittsburgh completed a three-game series sweep of New Jersey. The Penguins, who have points in their last nine home games, have nine wins in their last 12 games against the Devils.
New Jersey dropped its ninth straight game and 13th in 14 games overall. Miles Wood scored his 15th goal for the Devils, and Jack Hughes got his 11th.
Mackenzie Blackwood made 36 saves for the Devils after missing the previous two games with an upper-body injury. He is winless in his last nine starts since March 30.
Carter opened the scoring at 9:41 of the first period. The puck rolled off Jason Zucker’s stick and went to Carter, who beat Blackwood to the blocker side from the right faceoff dot.
McCann scored his team-leading seventh power-play goal 3:09 after Carter’s goal. McCann nearly shouldered the right post as he dove and converted a point-shot rebound over Blackwood’s pad. It was McCann’s 13th goal overall.
Rust gave Pittsburgh a three-goal lead 7:30 into the second. Jake Guentzel initially deflected Cody Ceci’s point shot, which later hit Rust’s shin pad and went into the net.
Hughes made it a 3-1 game at 8:45 of the second. The puck slipped off Yegor Sharangovich’s stick and went to Hughes, who beat an out-of-position DeSmith.
Wood pulled the Devils within a goal 10:58 into the third period. DeSmith committed to the initial shot from Ryan Murray, but he slid a pass to Wood, who scored on a one-timer. Damon Severson’s assist tied Ken Daneyko for seventh in Devils history for points by a defenseman.
CROSBY MAKES HISTORY
Crosby’s late goal also locked in his 16th season averaging at least a point a game.
Crosby, who has 55 points in 47 games, joins Wayne Gretzky as the only players in NHL history to have a point-per-game season in each of their first 16 years in the league. Gordie Howe averaged a point-per-game in 17 seasons total, one more than Crosby.
Crosby has nine goals and 26 points in 19 games without Malkin in the lineup this season.
Malkin skated before Saturday’s game.
Malkin wore a no-contact jersey a day earlier when he joined the team at practice for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury on March 16.
Brandon Tanev and Frederick Gaudreau, who have missed 10 and six games, respectively, also skated before Saturday’s game.
Devils center Janne Kuokkanen missed Saturday’s game after injuring his hand blocking a shot on Thursday. Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler also did not play because he was added to the COVID-19 protocol list.
HITTING THE MARK
Rust has scored 20 goals in consecutive seasons.
Rust, who netted a career-high 27 goals in 2019-20, is two away from 100 NHL goals.
Rust has points in 12 of the last 13 games — nine goals and 17 points — against the Devils, including 10 straight. Guentzel also has points in nine consecutive games against the Devils. He has 10 goals and 25 points in 21 career games against New Jersey.
Devils: Visit Philadelphia on Sunday for the first of four games against the Flyers.
Penguins: Continue a five-game homestand Sunday against Boston.