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Hellebuyck gets first shutout as Jets top Penguins

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg Jets rookie goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves and earned his first NHL shutout in a 1-0 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at MTS Centre on Sunday.

The shutout was the first for the Jets since April 9. Winnipeg had started the game ranked 27th in the NHL with 3.03 goals-against per game.

"[Hellebuyck] was outstanding," said Jets center Bryan Little, whose successful first-period penalty shot provided the game's only goal. "Every time he needed to make a big save, he made one for us and kept us in the game. He did everything he needed to do for us to win."

The Jets are the third team in NHL history to win a 1-0 game in regulation on a penalty-shot goal, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Hellebuyck, who started for the seventh time in the past eight games, has taken over the Jets' No. 1 goaltending job since he was recalled from Manitoba of the American Hockey League on Nov. 22 after Ondrej Pavelec sustained a knee injury.

"[The most impressive aspect] is he looks the same each night," Jets coach Paul Maurice said of Hellebuyck. "He seems to have a really solid foundation to his game. He is really consistent in his approach, how he looks in the net and he stops the puck."

Hellebuyck, 22, has one shutout in the AHL this season and had six shutouts last season.

"I'm just really excited that I finally got this milestone," Hellebuyck said.

Jeff Zatkoff had 27 saves for Pittsburgh (17-15-3), which failed to win three straight games for the first time since Oct. 31-Nov. 6. The Penguins start a stretch of three of four games at home Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I thought [Zatkoff] was solid," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "He made a couple of really timely saves for us. He kept it close. He gave us a chance to win. That's all you can ask for from your goaltender.

"We had some chances. I think in the second period we started to come on and started to play the way we've been playing most recently. We did a better job with the puck, and we had some pretty good chances that didn't go in for us."

Winnipeg (16-17-2) avoided a three-game losing streak but remains in last place in the Central Division. The Jets host the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday before beginning a five-game road trip.

Little drew a penalty shot when he drove the net and Pittsburgh defenseman Ben Lovejoy hooked him at 14:46. He followed with his team-leading 14th goal on a shot over Zatkoff's left shoulder on his first career penalty shot.

"I didn't know a lot about this goalie, but I knew I was going to shoot glove-side pretty much before I went," said Little, who has four goals in his past five games.

Little's goal was the first successful penalty-shot attempt for the Winnipeg/Atlanta Thrashers franchise since Oct. 8, 2010.

"I don't know [Little] that well," Zatkoff said. "I know he's a scorer. He made a nice shot. I just missed it just right by the side of arm. It's tough that that is the game-winner, but that's the way it goes sometimes. I felt good all game. I just tried to battle and give our team a chance, keep it a one-goal game."

Pittsburgh outshot Winnipeg 14-5 in the second period and controlled large portions of the game.

"[Winnipeg] jumped on us early," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "We got on our heels a bit. I thought in the second (period), we did a better job and had some good chances."

Jets defenseman Tyler Myers, who led the Jets with 23:03 of ice time, made two diving stops in the final minute of the game to preserve the shutout.

"We pushed down the stretch," Sullivan said. "We tried to put pucks on the net. We tried to go to the net. I thought we could have done a better job of getting to the [crease] for that second opportunity, the rebound chance [that] is usually a high-quality chance."

The Penguins, who are 27th in the League with 2.29 goals per game, have been shut out four times. They have allowed six goals in their past four games, but are 2-2-0 in that span. Sullivan did not like the Penguins' puck management, especially in the neutral zone.

"I don't think it was our most complete effort of the [past] probably four games that we have played," Sullivan said. "I thought in the first period we didn't manage the puck as well as we have in the important areas of the rink. I think more specifically coming through the neutral zone, we turned the puck over a fair amount of times there. I think that when we do that we don't spend as much time in our opponent's end zone. I think we make it easier on our opponents when we don't manage the puck in that area of the rink.

"I think that's a really important aspect of our team game, how we manage the puck in those areas because we're a team that wants to play with [the puck]. Sometimes we try to do a little too much. We don't have the necessary focus in that area of the rink, and it hurts us when we don't do as good a job there."

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