Pens dealing with familiar lack of scoring punch
The Pittsburgh Penguins (3-2-2) dropped their second game in a row in regulation and third straight game overall, falling to the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Monday night at the MTS Centre.
The Penguins faced a similar team they were accustomed to seeing in Atlanta last season but it was a whole different ball game when it came to the atmosphere. Playing in front of a raucous crowd at the MTS Centre, the Jets who came into the game with an 0-3 record, got that early goal they desperately needed, scoring 8 seconds into the game off the opening face-off as Nik Antropov and Alex Burmistrov came down the ice setting up Kyle Wellwood for the franchise’s fastest goal.
“It was about being ready to start this game,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “The Jets brought exactly what we thought they would bring. It was an emotional building and they had a fast quick start for them.
“We knew they wanted to come out and play that way, and they certainly did and got the better of us.”
The Jets then went up 2-0 with just over a minute left in the first period when Burmistrov who had a strong game, stole the puck from defenseman Kris Letang along the boards and sent up Tanner Glass giving the Jets a 2-0 lead.
For the Penguins who were playing without Sidney Crosby for the seventh time this season and Evgeni Malkin for the fourth time this year, offensively they resembled the team we saw for most of the second half of last season.
They played with a lot of intensity and battled hard but the only way they were able to get a puck behind Ondrej Pavelec was when they crashed the net bumping Pavelec before the puck got to him.
Playing with just two players on their roster who tallied 20 goals last season, the power play has to be the x-factor for the Penguins just like it had to be last season without 87 and 71 and wasn’t last night in it’s two opportunities.
A potential momentum changer was in the first period when Richard Park caused a Blake Wheeler holding penalty at 9:20 of the period. Winnipeg had all the momentum in the first half of the period and Pittsburgh was unable to capitalize and Winnipeg soon went up 2-0 later in the period.
The Penguins are 1-for-16 on the power play in four games without Evgeni Malkin.
Zbynek Michalek who fell on the Jets opening goal to move to a minus-7 on the season at the time, rebounded himself, scoring the only goal for Pittsburgh (3-2-2), which got 33 saves from Fleury.
Kris Letang assisted on the goal, giving him seven points this season, including one goal. Letang had been tied with Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson for most points by a defenseman.
Jordan Staal was strong again in the face off circle, winning 7 of 12 draws. He has won 26 of his last 40 draws.
Pittsburgh, which is playing 13 games in the first 24 days this season, was without Malkin (knee) and Tyler Kennedy (concussion-like symptoms). Crosby (concussion) and Brooks Orpik did not make the trip.
The Penguins are in Minnesota tonight for their second set of back-to-back games thus far on the season. Brent Johnson is expected to start in goal. Pittsburgh will be without Evgeni Malkin for the fifth time this season.