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Jeffrey's Goal Lifts Penguins

by Tony Jovenitti / Pittsburgh Penguins
Dustin Jeffrey is stepping up in more ways than one.

Not only is the Penguins center filling in for injured players, like he had in five previous games this season, but he’s also filling in for defensemen when necessary.

On Saturday night, it resulted in the Penguins’ opening goal in a 3-2 win over Carolina at CONSOL Energy Center.

“To get the lift from Jeffrey, a fresh call-up guy, that’s how you need to win games as a team,” head coach Dan Bylsma said.

“Dustin got the kind of goal we’ve been looking for, a net-traffic goal that just finds its way in,” Mark Letestu said.

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The Penguins found themselves in a four-on-four situation near the end of the second period with the game scoreless. In that scenario, it’s not uncommon for players to shift out of position.

Kris Letang cut through the crease to confuse the Hurricanes defense with the Penguins sustaining some pressure in the offensive zone. Jeffrey recognized the hole at the right point, and filled in the gap.

He found the puck and ripped a shot past Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward to get the Penguins on the board.

“We had a good shift in the zone,” Jeffrey said. “It was a four-on-four and there’s a lot of room there. I think ‘Tanger’ did a good job. When he cuts through there, it really confuses guys as to who’s covering whom.”

With Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby out with injuries, Jeffrey was recalled on Wednesday for the fifth time this season.

“It’s tough, but I think they’ve done a really good job of where the games have been played,” Jeffrey said of his multiple call-ups.  “If you look at last weekend, I played in Providence, then I went up to Boston and then back to Hartford. So it wasn’t a lot of travel.

“I have a couple suits and a couple shirts that are always packed so I just don’t have to worry about doing that kind of stuff. “

When he’s not filling in for Penguins’ injuries, he’s leading their top minor-league affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to an incredible 33-10-0-0 record.

Through 31 games in WBS, he leads the AHL Penguins in points (41) and assists (26). The Sarnia, Ont. native was named to the AHL Canadian All-Star Team for the second-straight season.

In his six games with the NHL club, he tallied two goals and an assist, including a two-point effort in his first game of the season in Buffalo on Dec. 11.

He finished Saturday’s game with one goal on two shots, and included a blocked shot for good measure.
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