Jared McCann, Brian Dumoulin and Colton Sceviour also scored as the banged-up Penguins won their second game in as many nights and eighth in 11 games (8-2-1). Casey DeSmith made 25 saves in snapping a personal two-game losing streak.
“If you want to win consistently, you need everyone to chip in and sometimes it’s goals, other times it’s other things,” Crosby said of the Penguins’ third and fourth lines. “Little things sometimes go unnoticed, but all those things add up to the winning hockey games.”
Miles Wood scored two goals, and Jack Hughes and Jesper Boqvist had one each for the Devils, who snapped a four-game winless streak beating Buffalo on Thursday night. Mackenzie Blackwood made 21 saves.
The Penguins opened a 5-2 lead midway through the third period on goals by Crosby and Rust, but they had to hang on in the final minutes after New Jersey got two goals off Penguins misplays to get within a one.
Rust put the game out of reach with an empty-net goal on a night the Penguins saw 11 players get points in the game.
“I just think that’s a sign of a good team,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “It’s hard to win consistently in this league if you don’t get contributions throughout your lineup on both sides of the puck, whether it be scoring goals, or whether it be playing in key situations, defensively, the penalty kill, winning faceoffs, blocking shots, wall play. There’s so many little things that add up to big things.”
The Penguins took the lead late in the second when Sceviour snapped a 26-game goal drought by batting a rebound past Blackwood.
“I mean any time you score in this league, it’s exciting” Sceviour said. “It’s been a little while, it’s even more so, but, you know, more or less you know we won the game and that was that was important.”
Rust stretched the lead to 4-2 with a power-play goal at 4:06 of the third and Crosby tallied his 16th at 10:02 for a three-goal margin.
Boqvist scored on a deflection off the stick of Chris Letang, and Dumoulin sent a pass off the leg of DeSmith to make it a one-goal game. Wood got credit for the goal.
“They know how to win,” Wood said of the Penguins. “You can’t play each game with your A-game, but they know how to win with their B-game. You know, I feel like for our team when we’re playing well, we’re hard to beat. But our bad games are, to be honest, so far off. It’s hard to play each game at your best. But you can’t give a C-effort.”
Hughes had tied it at 2-all early in the period with a shot from low in the left circle after DeSmith made saves on two other shots.
Wood opened the scoring with a tap-in 3:01 after the opening faceoff. McCann tied it by putting the rebound of Crosby’s shot past Blackwood on a power play at 10:00.
Dumoulin gave Pittsburgh the lead with less than a minute left in the first period with a point shot that deflected off the arm of Devils forward Janne Kuokannen. It gave him points in four game games, matching his career high set in 2018.
NOTES: The Devils did not have a pregame show on MSG Network because the hosts — Erika Wachter and Bryce Salvador — had to go into the COVID-19 protocol. … Bratt has two goals and four assists in his last four games. … Rust has points in six straight against New Jersey. … Hughes has goals in two straight after going 10 games without a goal.
Devils captain Nico Hischier is close to returning. The center has not played since being hit in the face by a shot on Feb. 28. He needed surgery on his nose. He started practicing this week.
The Penguins are winning despite injuries. Forwards Evgeni Malkin, Teddy Blueger, Kasperi Kapanen and Brandon Tanev remain out. Blueger seemingly is closest to returning.
The teams will face each other four more times in the next two weeks. They will return here Sunday for the final game in New Jersey and play in Pittsburgh on the April 20, 22 and 24.