The good news is, the Penguins only have one game remaining against the New Jersey Devils this season.
The better news is that, based on the way the standings are shaking out, it appears unlikely the Penguins could potentially match up against the Devils until the third round of the playoffs.
The bad news on Friday was that the Penguins — for the third time over the past seven weeks — lost to New Jersey.
The Devils used a three-goal second period and Taylor Hall’s goal on the first shift of overtime to beat Penguins again, this time 4-3.

“They’ve got a lot of guys who can make plays,” said Sidney Crosby, who had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. “A lot of speed on the wings that they love to use. We’re aware of that, but if we play in their end it’s hard for them to use their speed. We had success in the first and third period, and that’s how we have to play.”
The Penguins registered nine of the game’s first 11 shots on goal — including Crosby’s goal 2 minutes, 29 seconds in — and dominated the third period (16-4 edge in shots on goal). But they were done in by goals by Will Butcher, Blake Coleman and Nico Hischier over a span of 3:39 early in the second period.
“We have mental lapses for short periods of time,” coach Mike Sullivan said, “and it’s costing us. You can’t have that this time of year.”
The Penguins have just four regulation wins over their past 13 games (6-5-2).
Included in that stretch are two losses to New Jersey. Over the three meetings against their Metropolitan Division rivals this season, the Penguins have been outscored 10-6 and have allowed an average of 36.7 shots.
Hall and Crosby each surpassed 80 points this season during the game; Hall assisted on the Butcher and Hischier goals and recorded a game-high seven shots on goal.
None, of course, was bigger than when he beat Murray between his pads 27 seconds into overtime after being fed by Hishier for a breakaway.
“I thought I was all over (the shot),” Murray said, “and it just kind of squeaked through.”
The Penguins lost for just the second time over their past 17 home games — both have come against New Jersey. They have scored 4.7 goals per game over that span at home against everyone else but just five goals in the two games with New Jersey.
Friday’s game continued an alarming recent trend in which the Penguins are good-to-great for significant stretches — but awful for a period or, at least, a good portion of one.
Wednesday, for example, it was much of the second period against Montreal. A week ago, it was a bad start against the Canadiens. The night before that, it was a poor third period in Manhattan.
“We saw what we can do there in the third period when we apply pressure to teams and work as a five-man unit,” said defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who had a goal in the third. “And if we keep doing that, you see the result. I think we need to do that consistently for a full three periods.”
The Penguins’ penalty-kill let them down again at 5:15 of the second when Butcher scored to tie the game at 1. Two minutes later and seconds after a Kris Letang chance was denied by Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid, Coleman was able to get off a one-handed shot while fighting off Derick Brassard after being sprung on partial breakaway. It beat Murray.
Ninety-four seconds after that, Hischier made it 3-1 in a four-on-four situation soon after Carl Hagelin took a goalie-interference call during a delayed penalty called on the Devils.
But the Penguins controlled the third period, similar to how they had the better of the play during the first half of the first period.
Dumoulin scored off a Crosby faceoff win 3:13 in, and it was clear the momentum had shifted back. Phil Kessel tied it with his 30th of the season with 9:18 left, and even though the Penguins kept the pressure on the rest of regulation, all it earned them was a point.
That’s one more point than they’d gotten in two prior meetings with New Jersey in 2018.
“But we have got them one more time (March 29),” Dumoulin said, “and we can still show them our best.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.