The Winnipeg Jets were unable to hold on to two leads as they fall, 6-5, to the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday afternoon at Consol Energy Centre.
Pittsburgh erased a 2-0 and 5-4 lead for the Jets, each of which came after the first and second periods.
Penguins’ forwards James Neal and Evgeni Malkin led the way for Pittsburgh, both finishing with two goals and one assist in the game. Evander Kane also scored twice and added an assist in the loss.
With the loss, Winnipeg drops to 19-21-5 on the year. The Jets return home losers in every game of their three-game road trip through the Eastern Conference. The Penguins improve to 31-12-1 with the win and tie a franchise record with 12 consecutive wins at home.
Al Montoya made 33 saves in the loss, falling to 8-4-1 on the year. Montoya has now dropped his last two starts, allowing 10 goals during that stretch. Pens’ goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury, made 29 saves for the win.
The Jets got off to an early start scoring just 1:47 in to the opening period. Jacob Trouba pounced on an Olli Jokinen rebound to beat Fleury for a 1-0 lead.
The Jets added to their lead with 3.9 seconds remaining in the frame. Rookie Mark Scheifele snapped a Kane pass through Fleury who was fooled after it was redirected by a stick before hitting the back of the net.
Pittsburgh would cut the lead to 2-1 early in the second with a goal from Malkin who scored his 10th of the season. Malkin stole the puck from Jets defenceman, Dustin Byfuglien, just inside Winnipeg’s blue line before snapping it past the blocker of Al Montoya to cut the lead to one.
Neal scored back-to-back goals, just 34 seconds apart, to give the Penguins their first lead of the game. That would be short lived, however, as Blake Wheeler would even things up at 3-3 just over a minute later with his 16th of the year.
Jussi Jokinen regained the lead for the Pens with a shot that deflected off the stick of Chris Thorburn and past Montoya to give the Pens a 4-3 edge. That lead too would be erased with Kane’s 13th marker of the season.
Kane won a foot race with Pittsburgh defenceman, Rob Scuderi, before roofing a back hand shot on Fleury to make it 4-4. Kane added another with 17 seconds left on the clock to give the Jets a 5-4 lead heading in to the third period.
Like they did twice in the second, the Penguins tied things up with 8:29 to go in the third period. Malkin scored his second of the game following yet another Byfuglien turnover in the Jets’ defensive end. Byfuglien tried to make a pass to Scheifele out of the corner but instead found the stick of Neal whose shot left a rebound for an easy tap-in goal for Malkin.
Matt Niskanen made it, 6-5, for Pittsburgh with his fifth of the season.
The Jets had three power plays in the game but were unable to convert with the man advantage. Winnipeg killed off two-of-three Pittsburgh’s power plays.
Tobias Enstrom led all Jets with 24:04 of ice time.
Goals – 1. WPG Trouba (4) (Jokinen, Pardy) 1:47 2. WPG Scheifele (Kane) 19:57
Penalties – WPG Pardy (Tripping) 6:17, PIT Adams (Unsportsmanlike conduct) 9:14, WPG Byfuglien (Interference) 12:41, PIT Niskanen (Interference) 14:17, WPG Stuart (Hooking – PS) 16:52, PIT Engelland (Roughing) 16:52, WPG Byfuglien (Roughing) 16:52
Goals – 3. PIT Malkin (10) (Jokinen) 1:06 4. PIT Neal (15) PPG (Letang, Crosby) 4:25 5. PIT Neal (16) (Unassisted) 4:59 6. WPG Wheeler (16) (Little) 6:02 7. PIT Jokinen (12) (Malkin, Orpik) 11:38 8. WPG Kane (13) (Unassisted) 17:319. WPG Kane (14) (Scheifele, Frolik) 19:42
Penalties – WPG Wheeler (Slashing) 4:12, PIT Malkin (Hooking) 14:06
Goals – 10. PIT Malkin (11) (Neal) 8:29 11. PIT Niskanen (5) (Maatta, Kunitz) 12:38
Penalties – No penalties