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Crash landing: Jets eliminated from playoff contention with loss to Penguins

Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 10:55 PM / News

The Canadian Press

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Crash landing: Jets eliminated from playoff contention with loss to Penguins

WINNIPEG - Defenceman Paul Martin returned after an 18-game absence and scored the winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins eliminated the Winnipeg Jets from the playoffs with a 4-2 victory Thursday.

Martin, who was out because of a broken hand, made it 3-2 for the Penguins 11 seconds into a power play at 7:42 of the third period.

With Jets defenceman Mark Stuart in the penalty box for hooking, James Neal sent a pass into the slot for Martin, who fired a one-timer by goalie Ondrej Pavelec.

Penguins centre Brian Gibbons added the insurance marker when the Jets turned over the puck and Gibbons beat Pavelec with a low shot at 16:24.

Pittsburgh (49-23-5) had already clinched the NHL's Metropolitan Division title before the game was over after Philadelphia lost to Columbus earlier in the evening.

The Jets franchise hasn't made the playoffs since the team was the Atlanta Thrashers in 2006-07.

Dallas and Phoenix are tied with 85 points for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, but the Stars have a game in hand. They also still play each other.

Winnipeg has 78 points (34-34-10) and only four games left in the season.

The Penguins got goals from some uncommon snipers, with Beau Bennett scoring his third of the season and Greg Adams and Gibbons each scoring their fifth. Sidney Crosby had a pair of assists.

Veteran forward Olli Jokinen scored his 17th of the season for Winnipeg and defenceman Zach Redmond marked his first.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 13 saves in his 37th win of the season, while Pavelec stopped 17 shots.

Bennett got some payback with his goal at 12:44 of the first period.

After Stuart was sent to the penalty box for tripping Bennett, he took a nice feed from Crosby and one-timed his shot during the penalty's final second.

It was the only goal of the first period, which saw the Penguins outshoot the Jets 8-6.

Penguins winger Jussi Jokinen and Jets head coach Paul Maurice were hurting in the first period.

Jokinen was smashed hard into the boards by big Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien and sat out a few shifts, while Maurice was hit in the forehead by an errant puck and was sporting a red mark.

Winnipeg evened the score 2:52 into the second period when Blake Wheeler rushed to the net ahead of Penguins' defenders and the rebound off his shot was fired into the net by Olli Jokinen.

The assist gave Wheeler a career-high 65 points this season.

Redmond, playing in only his fifth game this season, made it 2-1 for Winnipeg with his first goal of the season at 9:42.

Adams tied the game at 18:47 when he took a pass from Lee Stempniak in the faceoff circle and beat Pavelec with a low shot.

Pittsburgh held its edge on shots at 14-12 after the second.

The game was the first of a three-game road trip for the Penguins, who head to Minnesota for a game against the Wild on Saturday.

Winnipeg plays in Toronto on Saturday.

Notes: With the win tonight, Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma marked his 250th career regular-season victory, the fastest coach in NHL history to reach that milestone in his 396th games. Anaheim's Bruce Boudreau won 250 games in 416 games … Penguin Brooks Orpik was playing in his 700th game … It's the second time in franchise history that Pittsburgh has won back-to-back division titles, with the last in 1992-93 and '93-94.

Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic