Devils spoil Crosby's season debut with 4-2 win over Pens

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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jesper Bratt scored on a third-period penalty shot to spoil Sidney Crosby’s season debut and help the New Jersey Devils beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 on Saturday night.

Crosby pulled down Bratt in the slot with three minutes left, leading to the deciding penalty shot. Bratt skated to the right and beat goalie Tristan Jarry with a backhander.

Crosby sat out the Penguins’ first seven games after undergoing wrist surgery Sept. 8. Jeff Carter, who also played Saturday for Pittsburgh, missed three games after entering the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol following a confirmed positive test.

Andreas Johnsson scored twice for New Jersey, including an empty-net goal with 1:43 left. Jimmy Vesey had a short-handed goal.

Jonathan Bernier made 33 saves for the Devils, who opened the season with four wins in their first six games. Bernier kept it tied at 2 in the third with two key power-play saves. He made a glove save on Jake Guentzel and had a post-to-post one-timer stop on Kasperi Kapanen.

Danton Heinen scored his fourth and Brock McGinn his second for Pittsburgh. The Penguins have been outscored 13-3 in three straight losses after starting the season on a five-game points streak. Jarry made 36 saves.

Heinen opened the scoring for Pittsburgh at 12:23 of the first period. Defenseman Juuso Riikola, playing his first NHL game in nine months, helped set up the goal with a secondary assist. It was his first point since Jan. 12, 2020, at Arizona. Heinen has four goals in eight games for Pittsburgh after scoring seven times in 43 games last season in Anaheim.

Johnsson tied it with 37 seconds left in the period when his centering pass hit the skate of the Penguins’ Evan Rodrigues and went into the net.

Vesey gave the Devils a 2-1 lead with a short-handed goal late in the second.

McGinn tied it 2 at 2:02 of the third period.

WELCOME BACK

Crosby returned to his familiar spot as Pittsburgh’s first-line center, alongside Rodrigues and Guentzel. Crosby, in his 17th NHL season, tied Hall of Fame owner Mario Lemieux for most played with the Penguins.

Carter will anchor the second line with Evgeni Malkin out of the lineup until at least December while recovering from knee surgery in June. Carter filled in on the Penguins’ top line for the first four games of the season in Crosby’s absence. He’s one game from 1,100 in the NHL.

Malkin and forward Bryan Rust are skating on their own, while defenseman Kris Letang remains in the COVID-19 protocol following a confirmed positive test. Rust is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

DEVILS INJURY UPDATE

Bernier returned to the lineup after missing three games with a lower-body injury. Goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood is also nearing a return from a lower-body injury.

Jack Hughes will be sidelined for at least another five weeks with a dislocated left shoulder. Hughes, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft, was hurt Oct. 19 against Seattle in the Devils’ second game of the season. Hughes scored two goals in the Devils’ season-opening win against Chicago, including the winner in overtime.

UP NEXT

Devils: Host Columbus on Sunday night.

Penguins: Host Philadelphia on Thursday night.

Dan Scifo, The Associated Press

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