PITTSBURGH - The loss was ugly but in the big picture it didn’t hurt very much.
The Winnipeg Jets were no match for the Pittsburgh Penguins falling 4-0 before a sold-out crowd of 18,672 customers at Consol Energy Center.
There was reason for despair, but the reality is these teams are in two different classes. The Penguins are looking to win a Stanley Cup while the Jets are hoping to take the first step towards being a playoff team.
So the news coming out of Toronto, that the Leafs had downed the Carolina Hurricanes quickly, took most of the sting out of the Jets' loss. Winnipeg retained its six-point lead on the Hurricanes in the Southeast Division, with the two teams meeting up Saturday at MTS Centre.
The Jets, by virtue of being first in the Southeast, remain the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
A mirthful Ron Hainsey wasn’t taking much time to dwell on the loss to Pittsburgh.
"Fortunately for us, we won’t see these guys again until the Eastern Conference Final and if that happens we’ll have a different play for them," smirked Hainsey.
The Jets have now allowed 20 goals over three games in Pittsburgh over the last two seasons.
"They’re a very good team. You can tell they play with a lot of will. They do it together," said Jets coach Claude Noel.
Winnipeg actually looked like even money with the Penguins for much of the first period; however, a no-look backhand pass from the game’s best player opened the floodgates.
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby sauced the puck to a waiting Chris Kunitz and he whipped a wrist shot in off the post to beat Jets goalie Al Montoya.
From there it was all Penguins as Evgeni Malkin added a goal before the period ended and then Pascal Dupuis put up a pair in the second for the 4-0 final.
While Noel and Hainsey were philosophical about the loss, defenceman Zach Bogosian was absolutely fuming. Bogosian barely lifted his eyes off the floor during a terse interview session and when it was over proceeded to jam his equipment into his bag with violent intent.
"They’re a good hockey team. I wouldn’t say they’re unbeatable. They play a good team game and when we’re playing a good team game we are too," said Bogosian. "I don’t accept this. We’re professional athletes. We’re not going to accept anything but winning."