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Crosby, Rust lead Penguins past Devils 5-1

Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust each scored their 19th goals of the season and the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the New Jersey Devils 5-1 on Thursday night.

Kasperi Kapanen returned to Pittsburgh’s lineup after missing 13 games with a left foot injury and had a goal and an assist. Teddy Blueger scored a short-handed goal, and Cody Ceci also scored for the Penguins.

The teams also met Tuesday, when Pittsburgh became the first team in NHL history to win despite allowing six goals in the third period during a 7-6 victory. The Penguins, who have 12 wins and points in 14 of their last 17 games, didn’t allow their big lead to slip away this time.

Pittsburgh Penguins' Teddy Blueger (53) celebrates his goal with Colton Sceviour (7) during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils in Pittsburgh, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP PhotoGene J. Puskar)

Tristan Jarry, who allowed those six goals on 11 third-period shots Tuesday, made 30 saves for the Penguins.

Matt Tennyson scored for New Jersey, his first goal since Dec. 15, 2015, when he played for San Jose. Aaron Dell was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 15 shots. Scott Wedgewood stopped seven shots in the Devils' eighth straight loss.

The teams complete a three-game set Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Penguins' Marcus Pettersson, right, works against New Jersey Devils' Michael McLeod in the corner during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP PhotoGene J. Puskar)

The Penguins scored three times on their first four shots of the second period, turning a one-goal lead into a 5-1 game.

Rust finished a one-timer from Jake Guentzel during a 2-on-1 at 12:03.

Kapanen used his speed to work around defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler and beat Dell, as the Penguins scored consecutive goals in 25 seconds.

Pittsburgh Penguins Kasperi Kapanen, center, returns to the bench after scoring during the second period of the team's NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils in Pittsburgh, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP PhotoGene J. Puskar)

Blueger scored his third goal in as many games at 15:59 of the second, giving Pittsburgh the four-goal margin.

Crosby opened the scoring 41 seconds into the game, following an extended shift in the Devils zone. He picked off a pass near the top of the left circle and flipped a shot over Dell’s shoulder. Crosby scored for the 13th time in the opening minute of a game, tied with Mark Messier for the most in NHL history.

WELCOME BACK

New Jersey Devils' Matt Tennyson (7) celebrates his goal during the first period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP PhotoGene J. Puskar)

Kapanen played fourth-line right wing Thursday so the Penguins could manage his minutes and he could regain his timing and conditioning on the fly. Kapanen scored four goals and 11 points in 13 games before his injury, as he flourished earlier this season on the team’s second line alongside Evgeni Malkin, who missed his 18th straight game with a lower-body injury.

Pavel Zacha and Jesper Bratt returned to the lineup for the Devils. Zacha and Bratt, who share the team lead with 25 points, missed five and four games respectively, both with lower-body injuries. Zacha started at left wing on the second line, while Bratt opened as third-line right wing, but the two took shifts with Nico Hischier in the second period.

CROSBY CHASING HISTORY

Pittsburgh Penguins' Kasperi Kapanen (42) brings the puck up ice with New Jersey Devils' Nico Hischier (13) in pursuit during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP PhotoGene J. Puskar)

Crosby, with 54 points in 46 games, is one point from his 16th season averaging at least one point per game.

Crosby, who can appear in a maximum 55 games, is looking to join Wayne Gretzky as the only players in NHL history to have a point-per-game season in each of their first 16 years in the league.

Crosby is also one goal from becoming the first player in team history to record 13 seasons of 20 or more goals. He would become the 36th player in NHL history to hit the mark and also pass Malkin and Penguins owner Mario Lemieux.

New Jersey Devils goaltender Aaron Dell skates to the bench after being replaced by goaltender Scott Wedgewood during the second period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP PhotoGene J. Puskar)

Crosby has eight goals and 25 points in 18 games without Malkin this season.

SCORCHING THE DEVILS

Rust has points in 11 of his last 12 games — with eight goals and 16 points — against the Devils, including nine straight. Guentzel has points in eight straight against New Jersey, and has 10 goals and 23 points in 20 career games against the Devils.

Pittsburgh Penguins' Bryan Rust (17) skates back to the bench after scoring on New Jersey Devils goaltender Aaron Dell (47) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP PhotoGene J. Puskar)

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Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan stands behind the bench during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils in Pittsburgh, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP PhotoGene J. Puskar)

New Jersey Devils coach Lindy Ruff gives instructions during the first period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP PhotoGene J. Puskar)