The Penguins were on the road again, this time landing in Winnipeg for the second time this season. Having lost their previous contest with the Jets back in January, the Penguins were looking to rebound while string together a second consecutive win. And with Winnipeg’s recent acquisition of former Penguins forward Eric Tangradi, it was almost certain to be a clash of bruised egos in the Great White North.
With less than four minutes gone in the first period, Pittsburgh’s Deryk Engelland would drop the gloves with Chris Thorburn, setting the physical pace of the game very early on. Both parties would earn five minute majors for fighting and the Penguins would follow it up with their first goal of the evening. It would be Craig Adams earning his first of the season (and his first in twenty games) picking up a rebound from Joe Vitale. Jets’ net-minder Ondrej Pavelec would be unable to recover his position in the net after the original save and Adams, parked in the crease, would hack at the puck a couple of times before sliding it over the line. The Jets’ would come close to tying it up but Marc-Andre Fleury, channeling his inner brick wall, would pull out all the stops. After twenty, the Penguins led 1 to 0 while outshooting the Jets 12 to 6.
The second would see the momentum between the two teams even out with a lot of back and forth play testing both goaltenders. Adams, in his attempt to earn himself a Gordie Howe Hat Trick, would take offence to James Wright following a hit to Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen that left the defencemen short of breath and a little shaky on his way to the bench. The Penguins would earn a power play before the end of the period, but would be unable to capitalize. Heading into the third, the scoreboard would still read 1-0 in favour of the Pens.
The first half of the third would mirror the second with a lot of back and forth play and some heavy hits. With just over six and a half minutes left to play, the Penguins would earn their second power-play opportunity of the evening when Winnipeg’s Zack Redmond was called for an interference. This would be followed, twenty-some seconds later, by another penalty to Winnipeg, this time Mark Stuart going to the box for a trip. This would give Pittsburgh a 5-on-3 opportunity that would all but wind down before James Neal would make it a 2-0 game with his eleventh of the season (his seventh power play goal of said season.) The Jets would call a time out with just under two minutes left in the period, and the rest would allow them the opportunity they needed to notch their first and only goal of the evening, courtesy of Andrew Ladd. Having pulled Pavelec in favour of the extra attacker, the Jets’ would use the man advantage to surround the Pens’ net, Ladd’s goal coming off of an odd angle. Winnipeg would pull Pavelec again with less than minute on the clock, allowing Adams the opportunity to earn his second of the night with an empty-netter, sealing a Pittsburgh win. The Pens would take the game 3-1, earning their seventh road victory this season.
Kris Letang would lead all skaters with 27:54 of ice time while Paul Martin would follow with 26:24. Craig Adams would register four shots on goal while James Neal, Tyler Kennedy, Joe Vitale and Evgeni Malkin would each have three. Marc-Andre Fleury would stop 25 of the 26 shots he faced while the Pens would fire 27 at Pavalec. In his first NHL game, prospect Beau Bennett, having been called up from Wilkes-Barre yesterday, averaged 11:37 of ice time and recorded one shot. The Penguins still sit one point behind New Jersey, holding on to the second spot in the Division and the fourth in the Conference.
The Penguins will head to Buffalo next where they will take on the Sabres Sunday at 12:00pm.