Hughes, Hischier lead Devils past Penguins 4-2

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jack Hughes had two goals and Nico Hischier added a short-handed goal, helping the New Jersey Devils beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 on Friday.

New Jersey is 19-3-2 when Hischier records a point and 11-4-1 when Hughes scores.

Dougie Hamilton also scored for the Devils, who had dropped two in a row. New Jersey has two wins in its last 10 games overall.

“It was a really good effort by our top guys,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “When you start winning hockey games, your top guys are the guys that kind of pull you through.”

Despite their recent struggles, the Devils are 13-2-1 on the road this season, second-best in the NHL. The Devils were 11-26-4 on the road last season.

Vitek Vanecek stopped 25 shots for the Devils, who are 21-3-2 when scoring three or more goals in a game this season.

“There are a lot of different ways to win a game,” Ruff said. “When you go through the year, you need to win games like this.”

Evgeni Malkin and Jeff Carter scored for the Penguins, who have lost four straight and five of six following a seven-game win streak. Tristan Jarry made 24 saves.

“A loss is a loss, but I think it’s better than the two previous games,” Jarry said. “It’s trending in the right direction.”

Pittsburgh played without top defenseman Kris Letang, who is day to day with a lower-body injury. The power play, which had a goal in 11 of 12 previous games, went 0 for 9. That included a four-minute penalty midway through the third period with the Penguins pressing for the tying goal.

“It’s hard to be critical of (the power play),” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “They’ve been pretty dynamic for the last 10-plus games or so. Power play’s been winning games for us.”

Malkin opened the scoring at 14:26 with a breakaway goal. He took the puck from Hamilton at the defensive blueline, skated into the zone and beat Vanecek to the glove side.

The goal moved Malkin ahead of Sergei Fedorov for second-most points in NHL history among Russian-born players.

Hamilton appeared to tie the game at 3:21 of the second, but the goal was overturned because of goaltender interference.

Hughes’ power-play goal at 6:18 counted. He sent a shot underneath the crossbar from the left circle for his 19th of the season.

It was the 16th career power-play goal for Hughes, which tied Paul Gagne for fifth in franchise history among players younger than 22. Hamilton’s assist was his 400th NHL point, which is 13th among active defensemen.

Carter gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead at 12:30 of the second, but the Devils scored two goals in the final 2:23 of the period. Hamilton tied the game at 17:37 when he finished a feed from Dawson Mercer, and Hischier scored with 37.1 seconds to play in the second.

“I had a lot of speed and I wanted the puck,” Hischier said. “I was pretty sure I could go outside and I decided to shoot the puck. If you shoot the puck, good things happen.”

UP NEXT

Devils: Host Carolina on Sunday.

Penguins: Face Boston on Monday at Fenway Park in the NHL’s annual Winter Classic.

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Dan Scifo, The Associated Press