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Penguins Pick Up Six Points During Perfect Canadian Road Trip

They topped the Winnipeg Jets on Monday to go 3-0 north of the border

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

WHAT HAPPENED

The Penguins defeated the Winnipeg Jets 3-1 on Monday at Canada Life Centre to earn their third straight victory.

Jason Zucker, Danton Heinen and Jake Guentzel scored for Pittsburgh, while Tristan Jarry made 30 saves.

OVERALL ASSESSMENT

After three straight setbacks, the Penguins crossed the border for their three-game swing through Canada - with stops in Montreal, Toronto and finally, Winnipeg - incredibly determined to pick up some points.

"I think the battle level we had, the urgency we had throughout the entire trip, was really good," Zucker said. "I think we stayed with it for 60 minutes for every game, which was huge for us."

And as a result, not only did they get all six points - they did so with a collective effort on both sides of the puck that allowed them to outscore their opponents 11-1.

"When we play a simple, straight-ahead game and we utilize our team speed, I think that's when our team is at our best. And I can see us getting better at it," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "Hopefully this trip will build some team confidence moving forward. Certainly we're pleased with the results that we got. We just got to continue to grow. We've got to get better. We can't get satisfied. We've got to stay hungry."

It helps that the Penguins have had their mostly full complement of players, minus Evgeni Malkin (knee surgery), for a little while now. And not only are their individual games coming back - the Penguins are starting to really gel and come together as a team, both on and off the ice.

"We've had guys out left and right, so to get back and have a more healthy lineup is really big for us, and it's gaining the chemistry back that you know is there," Zucker said. "It's been nice to have that for this trip."

OTHER THOUGHTS, MUSINGS AND OBSERVATIONS

STOPPING ALL THE SHOTS

Jarry is now the proud owner of the longest shutout streak in the NHL this season.

He entered the game at 151:06 following back-to-back shutouts against Montreal and Toronto, and surrendered the first goal against at the 10:27 mark of the first. That ended Jarry's stretch at 161:33 minutes, passing Jonathan Quick's streak of 154:39. It was the only goal Jarry would allow on the evening, and he even collected an assist on Guentzel's tally in the third.

"He's playing with great confidence, and that's huge for us," Zucker said. "We knew that over the summer, he was going to take himself and the training very seriously and come back and want to have a statement year. This trip, I think, was huge for him. I think he's done a great job. He's been working his tail off and playing really, really well for us."

Jarry was there for his teammates as they struggled to find their legs early on, as the Jets carried the play for a good portion of the first period, earning an 11-5 edge in shots in addition to the tally from Dominic Toninato.

"He kept us in that first period," defenseman Chad Ruhwedel said. "I thought they came out pretty hard. He just shut the door after that and was so solid."

Tonight marked Jarry's fifth straight start, and 10th in the past 11, as he's started all but three of Pittsburgh's games so far this season. The 26-year-old, in his second full season as the No. 1 goalie, is embracing the workload that he's earned with his performances as of late.

"I'm enjoying it. It's making me better," Jarry said. "I think just as I get to play more, I'm feeling the game a lot better. And I think it's making me a better goalie, just being able to go night in and night out and just focusing on my game, doing everything I can. And the guys are doing a great job. We're getting blocks, we're getting clears when we need to… I think that's been the key to our success as of late."

GUENTZ-GOALS KEEP COMING

While Jarry is keeping pucks out of his net, Guentzel has been filling the opponent's net down at the other end.

His empty-netter late in regulation gave him goals in five consecutive contests, tying his career-long five-game streak set on March 31-April 8, 2017 (5G-3A). It's been a remarkable turnaround for the 27-year-old winger, who tallied just once in his first seven appearances of the season.

"I just think he's playing the right way," Sullivan said. "He's not trying to force plays that aren't there. He's defending when he needs to. He's on the right side of the puck, he's strong on the puck. And I just think when he plays an honest game, he's a talented player, he's going to get opportunities to score. He'll create offense. So that's what I've seen in his game most recently."

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