Jagr-less Penguins stifle Devils 4-1, even series at 1-1
Posted: Saturday April 24, 1999 06:45 PM
Considering the way they played in Saturday's 4-1 victory over the Devils, the Penguins might not need him.
"We have a great team," said Pittsburgh's Alexei Kovalev, who had a goal and an assist as the Penguins evened the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series 1-1. "It doesn't matter who is not in the lineup.
"If Jaromir comes back tomorrow, it doubles the power for our team."
Playing without the NHL's leading scorer, the Penguins put together a great all-around defensive game behind goaltender Tom Barrasso. Jagr, the Penguins' captain, was scratched right before game time because of a groin injury suffered in Thursday night's 3-1 loss to the Devils in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
The Penguins hope their top player can return for Game 3 on Sunday in Pittsburgh.
"We need him back and we need him as soon as we can," said Jagr's linemate, Kip Miller. "But we need him healthy. You don't want him to get hurt worse."
Jagr said he wasn't sure when he will return. He said he tried to go back to Pittsburgh on Friday for acupuncture treatments, but couldn't get a flight because of bad weather.
"If I could have played a little bit, I would have played," Jagr said. "They [the team] played excellent. Hopefully, they'll play the same way tomorrow whether I come back or not."
The Penguins didn't seem to miss their star forward, generally regarded as the top one-on-one player in the NHL. Even without Jagr, they were a different team than the one that finished 15 points behind the Eastern Conference leaders and lost four of five games to the Devils during the season and five straight counting the Game 1 defeat.
"We see teams around the league, when franchise players go down, they usually rally around," New Jersey center Bobby Holik said. "They didn't change their game. They just played better than they did on Thursday."
Aleksey Morozov, Greg Andrusak, Martin Straka and Alexei Kovalev scored for Pittsburgh and the Penguins simply suffocated the Devils with a tight-checking defense that allowed few quality chances.
Barrasso stopped 25 shots before Dave Andreychuk finally scored for the Devils from in close with 8:19 left. Barrasso finished with 28 saves.
The Penguins' penalty killers played a big part, killing five New Jersey power plays. The Devils, No. 4 in the NHL on power plays during the regular season, have yet to score a goal with the man advantage on nine attempts in the series.
The Penguins took a 1-0 lead at 7:09 of the first period when Morozov scored on a rebound after Brad Werenka hit the goal post with a shot from the left circle.
The Penguins appeared to have scored a power-play goal 31 seconds into the second period, but Straka's goal was called off after a review showed that Morozov was in the crease.
Andrusak made it 2-0 at 3:19 of the second, scoring from the low slot with a quick shot after taking a great pass from Miller behind the goal line. Straka then scored one that counted, beating Martin Brodeur in front at 12:55. The Devils failed to clear the puck and German Titov at the side boards passed it to his teammate in front.
Kovalev put the Penguins ahead 4-0 when he scored at 1:41 of the third period on a deflection of Kevin Hatcher's shot from the right boards.
"We played awful," Devils left wing Brian Rolston said. "It doesn't matter if Jagr is in the lineup or out of the lineup, you still have to beat the other team on the ice."
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