Recap: Pittsburgh Penguins @ New Jersey Devils 4.2.24

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin each scored twice in a five-goal third period for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who rallied from down two goals for a 6-3 win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on Tuesday.

Rickard Rakell and Erik Karlsson also scored for the Penguins (34-30-11), who are 4-0-2 during a six-game point streak, including a 5-2 win at the New York Rangers on Monday. Alex Nedeljkovic made 23 saves.

The Penguins moved within three points of the Washington Capitals, who have one game in hand, for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Capitals, who lost 6-2 at the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday, host the Penguins on Thursday.

“I thought it was a gutsy effort by our guys,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “We could tell early on we didn’t have a lot of energy. We just didn’t have a lot of juice tonight. It was one of those nights where sometimes you play against the schedule. That game last night in New York took a lot out of our guys.

“I give our players a lot of credit. We hung in there and we dug in.”

Timo Meier, Jesper Bratt and Curtis Lazar scored, and Nico Hischier and John Marino each had two assists for the Devils (36-35-4), who have lost two straight and three of five. Jake Allen made 15 saves.

The Devils are six points behind the Capitals in the wild-card race.

“It’s not easy to explain, especially after the first two periods,” New Jersey coach Travis Green said. “I thought we played almost as perfect a game as we could’ve in the first two periods. Really didn’t give them a lot of life. ... I don’t think we necessarily let up, but we gave them some life with some power plays.”

Crosby cut it to 3-2 with a power-play goal at 6:48 of the third, tapping in a pass from Bryan Rust that hit Malkin near the right post.

Malkin then tied it 3-3 at 7:55 by deflecting a shot from Jack St. Ivany between his legs.

Rakell gave Pittsburgh a 4-3 lead at 16:16, redirecting a shot from Marcus Pettersson past New Jersey defenseman Simon Nemec.

“I thought the power-play goal got us going,” Rakell said. “Just making it a one-goal game, we know anything can happen. Then just play hockey. We played with emotions and just showed that we wanted it.”

PIT@NJD: Rakell tips in go-ahead goal

Malkin scored 22 seconds after Rakell on another deflection to push it to 5-3, and Crosby scored his 39th of the season into an empty-net goal with 2:53 remaining for the 6-3 final.

“I think just desperation,” Crosby said. “I think we knew it was going to be an uphill climb there. It was good to get one on the power play. ... Just putting pucks to the net. ‘Geno’ comes up with a huge tip, and then ‘Raks’ and Geno again. So, I thought we really got a lot of momentum there.”

Karlsson put Pittsburgh ahead 1-0 at 7:54 of the first period, scoring with a wrist shot from above the right face-off circle that hit New Jersey forward Erik Haula and deflected in off Nemec's skate in the slot.

Meier tied it 1-1 on a power play at 19:43 when his one-timer deflected in off the stick of Pettersson. It was his 14th goal in 16 games.

Lazar gave the Devils a 2-1 lead at 9:42 of the second period with a snap shot over Nedeljkovic’s glove from just outside the crease.

“It’s the NHL, the other team’s got skill,” Lazar said. “They’re not going to roll over easy. They’re going to try to make it hard on us.”

Bratt made it 3-1 on a partial breakaway at 17:47, scoring with a wrist shot low blocker side.

New Jersey was outshot 9-5 in the third after having a 21-12 advantage through two periods.

“I just think we stopped making plays in the third,” Meier said. “It almost looked like we were scared after they scored. That’s not how you win, playing on our heels. They’re obviously going to make a push in the third. We didn’t handle it well.”

NOTES: Each of Malkin’s three points came in the third period. He is the fourth Penguins player with at least 20 three-point periods, joining Mario Lemieux (74), Jaromir Jagr (33) and Crosby (24). ... Nedeljkovic started for the second straight day with Tristan Jarry unavailable because of an illness. He made 28 saves against the Rangers on Monday. ... Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler had two shots on goal in 17:52 of ice time after missing nine games with a concussion. ... St. Ivany’s assist on Malkin’s first goal was his first point in the NHL in his seventh game.