Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Zajac Powers Devils to Win

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Zajac Powers Devils to Win

Article excerpt

NEWARK – Travis Zajac missed the season's first 17 games after undergoing offseason surgery to repair a torn left pectoral muscle and even after making his way back into the lineup, he wondered when his scoring touch would return.

But the 32-year-old center is again becoming a difference maker. Zajac scored twice – snapping a nine-game goal drought – as the Devils defeated the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins, 3-1, on Saturday night at Prudential Center.

The Devils (27-16-8) moved past the Penguins (29-22-3) into second in the Metropolitan Division as they won their third straight while snapping the Penguins' four-game winning streak.

Keith Kinkaid, starting his third straight for an injured Cory Schneider, stopped 15 shots. Casey DeSmith made 35 saves for the Penguins were playing on back-to-back nights after a 7-4 win over the first-place Capitals on Friday night at Pittsburgh. It was the second straight game the Devils faced an opponent playing for a second straight night after rallying with two third-period goals to defeat the visiting Flyers, 4-3, on Thursday night.

But for all the Devils dominated the first 40 minutes, the Penguins gave themselves a chance by keeping their deficit to two goals and outskating the Devils in the third period.

Evgeni Malkin, with his eighth goal in four games after he scored twice with two assists against the Capitals, cut the Devils' lead to 2-1 as he got to the crease for a backhander past Kinkaid at 6:16 of the third period.

Zajac's second goal, and his seventh of the season, gave the Devils a 3-1 lead at 9:51 as he got to the crease to redirect Damon Severson's shot from the right point. Taylor Hall got the secondary assist and now has at least one point in his last 10 games.

Sidney Crosby, who had an 11-game point streak snapped, had his potential 400th NHL goal waved off because of goalie interference on Bryan Rust at 12:54. The on-ice, no-goal call survived a challenge from Penguins coach Mike Sullivan.

Zajac's third line with Blake Coleman and Stefan Noesen initiated a dominant second period for the Devils with two goals in the opening 3:05. …

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