For the Pittsburgh Penguins, a win on the road is almost second nature. Friday night’s contest in Winnipeg saw the Penguins validate that reputation through a disciplined and controlled style of hockey. The Black and Gold defeated the Winnipeg Jets by a final score of 3-1 for the club’s 10th win of the season. The Penguins are now 10-5-0 with twenty points.
The Penguins were led by the efforts of forward Craig Adams, netting his first two goals of the abbreviated season. His first came at 3:19 of the first period as a wrist shot sailed past Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec. Adams’ second was a wrist shot through the neutral zone and into the empty Jets’ net. Oct 13, 2006 was the last outing where Adams registered a multi-goal game.
“If I had more nights like this I would make a better living,” Adams joked after the final buzzer sounded.
Following the win for his club, Penguins bench boss Bylsma remarked on Adams’ assiduousness and dauntlessness.
“It’s not something you look for Craig Adams for what his numbers are at the end of the year in terms of scoring points and goals. I think, you know, he played a highlight game,” Bylsma said. “He stepped in on a fight there, on (James) Wright and starts the game off with a great play with (Joe Vitale) going to the net there, he goes to the net gets a big goal to get us going there to start the game which I thought was real big by their line and then it’s only fitting that at the end he gets the empty net goal to seal the deal.”
James Neal, assisted by reigning Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin and captain Sidney Crosby, scored his eleventh goal on the power play at 15:11 of the second period. The assist extends Crosby’s point streak, making for a total of fifteen points. With 14 points, Malkin is not far behind. The three superstars compose the better part of the Penguins’ top power play unit, in conjunction with Kris Letang and Chris Kunitz.
The Jets peppered goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with shots after a slow start in the first period. The Jets registered only six shots through twenty minutes, a number that increased modestly throughout the game. Jets captain Andrew Ladd spoiled Fleury’s bid for a shutout after controlling a Bryan Little rebound. The Jet’s lone tally would come at 18:25 of the third period, despite Fleury’s ataraxy and diligence.
“They came out hard, threw pucks at the net and put guys there,” said Fleury. “But then the guys on our side, they were blocking shots and taking rebounds away also.”
Jets Head Coach Claude Noel praised Fleury and highlighted his team’s struggles.
“I thought Fleury played really well to keep them in there and keep the score how it was,” Noel said. “In the third period I thought that we needed to get dumps in better areas and we struggled to get them there.
Pavelec turned away 25 shots, falling to a 3-7-1 record, in the Jets’ third consecutive loss at home.
The Penguins have scored first in a league-leading 12 games this season, nine of those on the road. The club is 9-3 when scoring first. Crosby won 56% of face-offs taken. The Penguins conclude their road trip Sunday as they meet the Buffalo Sabres.