Winnipeg Jets vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, Jan. 27, 2014
Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 27/1/2015 (2099 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
PITTSBURGH — Scratch two of the best players on the planet, a couple of veteran forwards and a gifted young defenceman from the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup and what do you get?
The same old, methodical beat down of the Winnipeg Jets (nee: Atlanta Thrashers) franchise on home ice.
The Pens — minus Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Pascal Dupuis, Blake Comeau and Olli Maata — used an energized first period and a couple of favourable calls from the officiating crew to end the Jets’ five-game winning streak in a 5-3 victory Tuesday night. Pittsburgh has now won 14 consecutive games against the Jets/Thrashers dating back to March 24, 2007 at the old Igloo. It’s the Pens longest active home-winning streak against any NHL team.
RUST NEVER SLEEPS
Give the Pens who did dress full credit, for they set the tone early against a Jets side that was horrible in the first period.
Rust on the Jets? Sure.
Telling themselves not to take a depleted Pens squad lightly and then doing exactly that?
"We knew even without those guys it was going to be a tough game," said Jets centre Bryan Little. "Teams are pretty dangerous when they’re missing guys like that because they have guys coming into the lineup that are getting more ice time that are working their asses off. That was the case tonight. I mean, they had guys who were ready to play and worked hard and made it hard on us. They were a little more ready to play than we were. They looked sharper, a bit quicker out there. They did everything a bit faster. We were just a bit slow.
"There were some good moments for us in that game, some guys that really stepped up and had good games and played well today. But the majority of us weren’t quite there. It was a tough one to come back to."
Seldom is this space used to bring the officiating into the narrative, but it did play a part in Tuesday’s outcome.
The Penguins clearly had too many men on the ice when Steve Downie evened the score 2-2 with five seconds left in the second period; Adam Lowry was fingered for a phantom charging penalty that set up the game-winning goal and the Jets, for the third time this season, did not have a single man advantage.
That, in part, explained why Jets coach Paul Maurice looked mad enough to spit nails in his post-game media session.
"The first two periods we traded, I thought," Maurice said. "They were better in the first, we were better in the second. And then two power-play goals in the third were the difference in the game."
On Downie’s goal: "From our vantage point we should be on the power play going into the third up 2-1. But... we don’t get to make those calls."
On Lowry’s penalty: "It’s a good hit. Let me rephrase that: I don’t care what they call or they don’t call, Adam Lowry’s making that hit every chance he gets. He wasn’t driving his legs, he didn’t come up high... it was a good hit for us."
ALL THAT SAID...
So many of the things that were evidenced in the Jets’ five-game winning streak before the NHL All-Star Game were absent Tuesday in Pittsburgh. The Pens’ forecheck gave the D corps nightmares, especially early, Ondrej Pavelec was not very good in goal and the Jets top two lines were outplayed by their bottom six.
The bottom line? With three of their next four on the road, including Thursday in Philadelphia, they are going to have to be light years better than they were against the Pens.
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"It was a little sloppy, especially in the first period, with some turnovers that aren’t very characteristic of our hockey club," said Lowry.
"We weren’t finishing all our checks and we were allowing them to break out of their zone pretty cleanly. Once the second period got going, we started to get our legs and we started to play better. Obviously, it’s not the way we wanted to play."
JETS at PENGUINS When: 6 p.m., CT Where: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh TV/Radio: TSN3/TSN 1290
Notable: Pitt is 5-1-1 against the Central Division… The Pens have a 13-game home winning streak against the Jets and is 22-4-0 at home all-time vs. the Jets/Thrashers… The Pens are 8-0-1 in their last nine games in which both Crosby and Malkin have been out of the lineup… Andrew Ladd (1G, 3A) and Bryan Little (2G, 2A) are both on three-game point streaks.