Everything you need to know from the Penguins' 2-1 setback against Winnipeg:
FAST START, LOUD CROWD
Winnipeg hockey fans have always been known to be a boisterous bunch, and they were out in full force against the Penguins. Throughout the 60-minute contest the crowd was loud, electric and fired up.
The MTS Centre is the smallest building in the NHL with a capacity of 15,004. But the small rink allows the echo and screams of the crowd to be all the more powerful.
And Jets fans were certainly deafening with a cacophony of cheers when Kyle Wellwood scored a goal to give Winnipeg a 1-0 lead just eight seconds after the game’s opening faceoff. It was a much-needed fast start for a team that entered Monday’s game with the unfortunate distinction of being the only remaining NHL team without a point in the standings.
“The atmosphere in the building was obvious from right in warmups and the start of the game,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “Conceding a goal in the first eight seconds got them pretty amped up. We expected their team to come hard and play with a lot of emotion and energy early on. They did exactly that. It was pretty loud in here.”
- Sam Kasan
It took a while for the Penguins to get to their game. But once they did, they piled the pressure on Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec.
He stood on his head at Pittsburgh got chance after chance, firing 14 shots in the second period alone. While Pavelec made some outstanding saves, it would be defenseman Zbynek Michalek
who finally cracked the Czech netminder off an offensive zone faceoff.
“It was a rough start. But the team picked it up and got that big goal for ourselves with that second one,” goalie Marc-Andre Fleury
said. “The team didn’t quit. Everybody kept going at it and the goalie had to make some good saves.”
Jets center Jim Slater actually won the draw, but Matt Cooke
quickly jumped on the puck and sent it back to Kris Letang
. Letang immediately slid a pass over to Michalek, who drilled an absolute bullet through traffic for the score.
The goal was Michalek’s first point of the season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. He scored with less than two minutes left in the second to cut Winnipeg’s lead to one and shift momentum back in Pittsburgh’s favor.
“Just a set play that we tried,” Michalek said. “It was just a great play by Cookie on the faceoff and Kris to give me the puck. I was just trying to hit the net and the goalie didn’t see anything.”
Pavelec wasn’t the only goalie to turn in a stellar performance as Fleury put forth an equally outstanding effort.
“We battled hard to come back into the game, but their goalie played unreal. So did ‘Flower,’” Michalek said. “He made some amazing saves there.”
Fleury was tested early and often, finishing with 32 saves. And while that’s an impressive statistic on its own, that number doesn’t tell the whole story.
Many of those shots were high-quality chances that Fleury kept out of the net with the Penguins battling to tie the score – including a toe stop on an Alexander Burmistrov breakaway with just over two minutes left in regulation.
Fleury is now 12-5 in his career against the Jets.
PK POWERS ON
The Penguins’ penalty kill continues to roll on the road.
Pittsburgh stymied all four Jets power plays in Winnipeg on Monday, improving to a perfect 15-for-15 in shorthanded situations in their opponents’ arenas so far this season.
The Penguins have allowed just one power-play goal through seven games, ranking first in the NHL with a 95.4-percent success rate.
The Penguins knew they would be without Sidney Crosby
, Evgeni Malkin
, Brooks Orpik
and Dustin Jeffrey
for Monday’s game, as those four injured players did not make the trip with the team.
Unfortunately, Pittsburgh had to play without forward Tyler Kennedy
as well. Bylsma said prior to the game that the 24-year-old winger was suffering from concussion-like symptoms and would be re-evaluated further.
“We were made aware of the symptoms last night,” Bylsma said. “That's why he was not on the ice and won't be there tonight.
"I'm not entirely sure about (if something happened against Buffalo), other than last night Tyler talked to our trainers and is getting evaluated this morning. We'll go from there."
Kennedy had played in all five of the Penguins’ games prior to Monday. Steve Macintyre
took his place in the lineup.
Author: Michelle Crechiolo