The Pittsburgh Penguins have made it 14 in a row Thursday as they defeated the Winnipeg Jets in dominant fashion, 4-0. The Penguins were led by Tomas Vokoun who earned his 50th career shutout in the absence of Marc-Andre Fleury.
Vokoun stopped all 20 shots that he faced in addition to picking up his second assist of the year.
Meanwhile, the offense was cranking on all cylinders. Pascal Dupuis scored twice in the victory and Pittsburgh outshot Winnipeg 43-20.
Evgeni Malkin, who returned from his shoulder injury scored his sixth goal of the season.
“We’re a great team and we’re playing like we’re supposed to,” Vokoun said in his post-game interview with ROOT Sports. “Guys are battling hard, it’s so much fun playing in this town, it’s been great.”
It was a game where the Penguins constantly had the Jets pinned in their own zone while cycling with finesse and flow for 60 minutes. They not only dominated in the shot category, but also in the faceoff circle finishing with a 37-19 edge (66%). And their penalty kill also went 3-for-3 including a 5-on-3 early in the third period.
“We’re focused on making sure our game is where it needs to be,” Sidney Crosby said during his post-game interview. “I think there were a couple of times during the last few games where we had ‘not so good’ periods but throughout tonight we were all in it and competing throughout the game.”
Crosby who leads the National Hockey League in scoring added two assists in the game to give him 56 points on the year (15 G, 41 A).
The Penguins offense did its thing from the start and took a 2-0 lead in the first period after getting goals from Chris Kunitz and Malkin who returned with a vengeance creating multiple scoring opportunities.
On the defensive side, the Penguins limited the Jets’ chances and kept one of their top scorers Evander Kane off the score sheet. Kane finished the game with three shots and a minus- 4 rating.
“We did a lot of good things but there are other areas where we can keep improving,” Crosby said. “With some new guys it’s going to take some time to adjust a bit so that will be our focus.”
Although the Penguins played without newly acquired Jarome Iginla, defenseman Douglas Murray made a big impact playing in his first game since being dealt from the San Jose Sharks. Murray registered three shots, three hits and a plus- 1 rating.
Murray will continue to be called upon after the Penguins placed Kris Letang on injured reserve. The Norris Trophy candidate is expected to miss 7-10 days with a broken toe.
Pittsburgh already owns the longest winning streak this season but are now in a position to chase history as they are only four wins shy of holding the all-time record of 17 games ironically held by the 1992-93 Penguins.
Winnipeg (18-15-2) remains in first place in the Southeast Division and will host the Carolina Hurricanes in a critical match Saturday.
Pittsburgh (27-8-0) continues its home stand Saturday against the New York Islanders, a game where Iginla is expected to make his debut.
Ekiert’s three stars:
3- Chris Kunitz; LW, Penguins- Goal, assist
2- Tomas Vokoun; G, Penguins- 20 saves (50th career shutout)
1- Pascal Dupuis; LW, Penguins- 2 Goals