It was a busy hockey day in Pittsburgh. Less than twenty-four hours after announcing that the Penguins had won the 2013 Trade Deadline lottery with the acquisition of Jarome Iginla, Pittsburgh hit the ice for their 35th game this season, going toe-to-toe with the Winnipeg Jets once again. Tonight, Douglas Murray, also acquired this week, would make his debut in the black and vegas gold while Evgeni Malkin, having missed nine games with an upper body injury, returned for the second time this season. And with a thirteen game win streak on the line – looking for win number fourteen – the Penguins meant business. But, would the Jets spoil the run? Only time would tell.
The Jets held momentum very early in the first, testing net-minder Tomas Vokoun a few times in the first several minutes of the period. However, it didn’t take long for said momentum to swing in favour of Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby came close to notching the first of the night with a re-direct from a pass from Pascal Dupuis that required Al Montoya to come up big for the Jets. However, moments later, Chris Kunitz would redeem that first line with goal number one of the evening. Picking up a no-look pass from Crosby, Kunitz’s one-timer from the far side snapped past Montoya. Two and a half minutes later, number two came courtesy of Evgeni Malkin. James Neal sent a hard-pass across ice to a crashing Malkin who had nothing left to do but bat it in. Play was reviewed but the goal on the ice stood, and heading into second, Pittsburgh found themselves up 2 to 0.
The second period was all Pascal Dupuis as the winger would notch not one but two goals for the Penguins, giving them a four to zip lead through two. The first came just – ironically enough – with 4:12 off the clock in the middle frame. Crosby bounced a pass to Kunitz who earned a two-on-one with rushing Dupuis. Kunitz slide it over to Dupuis and all Duper had to do was blast it past Montoya. With 7:40 left in the second, Craig Adams was whistled for a trip, sending the penalty kill to work. Pittsburgh had no problems killing it off but found themselves back on the PK when Paul Martin was whistled for a high stick with 2:44 left in the first forty. Unfortunately for Winnipeg, there man advantage resulted in Dupuis’ second goal of the night. Able to beat Dustin Byfuglien, the penalty kill unit was able to earn yet another 2-on-1. Skating alongside Tanner Glass, Dupuis snapped the puck past Montoya, and just like that, it was 4 – ZIP!
Tomas Vokoun would come up strong in the third, earning his second straight shutout – the 50th of his career – to down the Winnipeg jets 4 to 0 and give the Penguins WIN NUMBER 14.
Paul Martin led all skaters with 23:53 of ice time followed by Brooks Orpik with 22:21. Pascal Dupuis banked 7 shots on goal while Sidney Crosby had 6. The Penguins sent 43 shots toward Montoya while Vokoun faced 20. In his first game in a Penguins uniform, Douglas Murray logged 18:20 of ice time and recorded two shots on goal. The first line of Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis had a two point night, maintaining sole possession of the highest scoring first line in the National Hockey League.
The Penguins continue to be without Kris Letang who has been placed back on the injury list, the result of a broken toe that will see him out at least seven days.
Pittsburgh’s next game is Saturday at 1:00pm when the New York Islanders roll into town.