Penguins Vs. Devils: Pittsburgh Struggles Early, Drops Third Straight Game To New Jersey

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 05: Zach Parise #9 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates his second period goal with teammate Steve Bernier #18 as Brent Johnson #1 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on at Prudential Center on February 5, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The Penguins lost to New Jersey for the third straight time on Sunday, as two early goals on Marc-Andre Fleury set the tone for a 5-2 win.

The Pittsburgh Penguins dropped their third straight game to the New Jersey Devils this season, falling 5-2 at the Prudential Center in Newark. Coming into the game, the Devils and Penguins were neck-and-neck in the standings at the five and six spots in the Eastern Conference.

The Devils jumped out to an early two-goal lead, as Ilya Kovalchuk and Anton Volchenkov scored within the first 10 minutes of the game. It was Volchenkov's first goal of the season. Although he's been brilliant over the past month, Marc-Andre Fleury struggled early and the Pens generally looked lethargic out of the gate.

After a Dainus Zubrus goal made it 3-0, Matt Niskanen finally put Pittsburgh on the board with a power play blast past Martin Brodeur. Cal O'Reilly put a beautiful pass on the stick of Niskanen to set up the goal. But Zach Parise answered the goal less than ten minutes later to give Jersey their second three-goal lead of the game.

Evgeni Malkin, the hottest player on the planet, tried to lead a third period comeback with his 29th goal of the season, but the three-goal deficit was too much to overcome. Malkin was -4 on the day, as Kovalchuk raced around and was the best player on the ice this afternoon. A late empty-netter by David Clarkson sealed it at 5-2. The Pens now travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Tuesday night.

For more news, analysis, and discussion on the Penguins, visit SB Nation's Pens blog, Pensburgh. For the opponent's perspective, visit In Lou We Trust, SB Nation's New Jersey Devils blog. For all your hockey news, be sure to follow SB Nation's NHL news hub.

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