November 27, 2015


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Penguins quick on the draw

Jokinen wins faceoff but Pittsburgh capitalizes

Penguins sniper James Neal (18) celebrates after his second goal.


Penguins sniper James Neal (18) celebrates after his second goal.

PITTSBURGH -- He slammed his stick in anger, skated swiftly to the bench and sat down in a huff.

Winnipeg Jets centre Olli Jokinen had just won a defensive-zone faceoff from Sidney Crosby and two seconds later, the puck was behind Jets goalie Al Montoya for the winning goal.

That's because Penguins winger Chris Kunitz darted into the faceoff circle behind Jokinen, slapped the puck back to defenceman Olli Maatta, who passed to partner Matt Niskanen, who took the quick shot that eluded Montoya.

It was one of many things that went wrong for the Jets in their 6-5 run-and-gun loss to the Penguins on Sunday.

"I thought I won the faceoff and I don't know what happened after that," Jokinen said after the defeat, much calmer than he had appeared to be on the ice. "I turned and the puck was in the back of the net. But they do that a lot. They get their inside winger jumping in case they lose the faceoff.

"It happened three, four times before that. So it's a set play for them and they have options, win or lose (the draw). All their guys, five guys, you see them talking before every faceoff.

"They have a plan every faceoff, what to do. That's their play."

Rather than rant and rave, Jokinen just went on the facts after the Jets' third straight defeat.

"That's one of the most talented teams in the league," he said. "You can't try to outscore them. You've got to find the way to play the good defence. On a few goals, they made us look pretty bad. But we're not the first team and we won't be the last team they do that (to)."


Respect: less is more

Jets left-winger Evander Kane had complained after Saturday's loss in Boston his team might have given the powerful Bruins too much respect.

He thought the Jets did better in that area on Sunday.

"I did. I thought we came out and tried to play on offence and got after their skilled guys," Kane said after scoring twice against Pittsburgh. "(Though) they still had good nights."

Kane was happy with the way rookie Mark Scheifele went head-to-head with Sidney Crosby. Before the game he told Scheifele to stand tall.

"I said, 'I don't care who he is, get after him,' and he did a good job, won that first faceoff. Little things like that were good, but like I said, we just made too many mistakes."

Kane made it clear he was just trying to mentor Scheifele.

"I wanted to make sure he wasn't star struck," he said. "I told him I'd hit him if he was."

The winger, now with 14 goals, just two back of Blake Wheeler's team-leading 16, frowned about the Jets blowing period leads of 2-0 and 5-4.

"Our puck management in the third period wasn't very good," he said.


Finding a way

The Penguins had cause to be concerned about their own defensive habits on Sunday, but all of that's a little easier to take with the horses in Pittsburgh's stable.

"Had some doubt tonight (we'd win), but no matter what the score is, with the guys we have, we can always come back," said winning goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

"This team (is) finding a way a lot of different ways," said coach Dan Bylsma. "This one, from a defensive standpoint, wasn't our best in a lot of areas but we came out after the first period and got back in it with a power-play goal.

"We came out in the third having to find a way to win and this team has done that... right down to Marc-Andre Fleury making a spectacular save at the end."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 6, 2014 C2


Updated on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 8:03 AM CST: Fixes score after first period.

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