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James Neal scores winner as Pittsburgh Penguins blow by Winnipeg Jets 4-1

NHL.com @NHL

WINNIPEG - James Neal's goal just 22 seconds into the third period stood up as the winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Winnipeg Jets 4-1 Friday night.

Neal's team-leading 20th goal of the season was followed up by goals from Jordan Staal and Pascal Dupuis within the first five minutes of the final period.

Joe Vitale scored Pittsburgh's first goal, while Chris Kunitz had a pair of assists.

Winnipeg got its goal from Alexander Burmistrov midway through the second period.

Marc-Andre Fleury only had to make 18 saves to help improve Pittsburgh's record to 20-11-4.

Ondrej Pavelec, making his 30th start of the season, faced 39 shots as the Jets moved to 16-14-5.

The Penguins are now riding a three-game winning streak.

The loss concluded Winnipeg's six-game homestand. They went 3-2-1 during that span.

Jets forward Jim Slater had a great scoring chance early in the first, scooping up a turnover and breaking in alone on Fleury with a shot that clanged off the cross bar.

Vitale put in a rebound at 13:39 of the first to record his second goal of the season.

While Winnipeg spent a lot of time in the Pittsburgh end, they couldn't get many shots on net and were outshot 14-5 in the first period.

Burmistrov tied the contest 1-1 on Winnipeg's eighth shot of the game when Blake Wheeler sent a nice pass to him as he streaked through the left circle in the second period.

Wheeler now has five goals and 13 assists in his last 17 games.

Evgeni Malkin and Kunitz assisted on Neal's goal 22 seconds into the third.

Malkin and Neal have now extended their points' streaks to seven games.

Malkin has six goals and 10 assists during that span, including three goals and six assists in his last three games.

Neal has six goals and three assists during his streak.

Staal scored his 10th of the season on the power play at 4:14 of the third, followed 40 seconds later by Dupuis' goal.

The Jets head off for a Christmas break and return to action Tuesday in Colorado. Pittsburgh hosts Carolina the same day.

Notes: The Jets are 0-7-0 this season when trailing after the first period. ??? The game was the second of four meetings this season between the clubs. Winnipeg won the first game 2-1 on Oct. 17. ??? Pittsburgh defenceman Deryk Engelland began serving a three-game suspension for his Tuesday hit on Chicago's Marcus Kruger.

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