(Reuters) - Jordan Staal scored two goals as the Pittsburgh Penguins overcame their divisional rival New Jersey Devils 4-1 on Saturday to record their third consecutive win.
"I felt good tonight," Staal told reporters. "My legs felt good. My hands felt good. I just had a good game."
Staal opened the scoring in the first period with a well-placed snapshot over the glove of New Jersey goalie Johan Hedberg on a Penguins power play.
After a tight second period the third opened with a scoring burst revolving around a four-minute minor penalty.
Devils forward Petr Sykora was called for a high stick on Pittsburgh's Steve Sullivan, however, it was clear that New Jersey's Patrik Elias was guilty of the foul.
Elias took advantage of the mistaken identity to snap a pass from Ilya Kovalchuk past Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to score the tying goal at 1:47 with Sykora in the penalty box.
"I didn't want Patty (Elias) to go into the penalty box for four minutes. We need him on the PK (penalty kill). He's on our first (penalty kill) unit," Sykora explained.
"After that, he (the referee) came up to me, he wasn't happy and I apologized to him," Sykora said, adding that his lack of honesty had been disrespectful.
Pittsburgh recovered with a power play goal by Chris Kunitz at 3:07 and then Stall scored his second goal a minute later with a beautiful forehand to backhand move to elude Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador before lifting a shot into the top of the net to push the lead to 3-1.
"He's (Staal) doing everything," linemate Kunitz said. "He kills penalties. He plays against the top lines. He's a guy that flies under the radar with a bunch of superstars on this team. We know how good he is. He's proven it year after year."
James Neal completed the rout scoring his eighth goal of the season, tying him for the league lead.
Neal dug the puck loose from a group of players behind the New Jersey goal and skated in front before snapping a shot into the top corner near the mid-point of the third period.
(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario. Editing by Patrick Johnston)