The Pittsburgh Penguins have been able to survive a rash of injuries this season and look to keep it that way when they pay a visit to the Winnipeg Jets tonight at MTS Centre.
Superstar Sidney Crosby is still dealing with concussion-related symptoms and defensemen Paul Martin (leg), Zbynek Michalek (concussion) and Kris Letang (nose/concussion) are dealing with their own issues. Martin could return tonight against the Jets and is listed as questionable.
The Penguins have won two in a row and five of their last nine games, including Tuesday's 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Steel City. Chris Kunitz, James Neal and Tyler Kennedy all scored and Evgeni Malkin dished out three assists for Pittsburgh, which got 36 saves from Marc-Andre Fleury. The goaltender made 17 stops in the third period alone.
"They did some things in the third that we should have been better aware of," said Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma. "We knew they were going to come out harder and should have done a better job of handling that. We did respond better in the second half of the period and the PK and Fleury came up big at the end."
Pittsburgh will hit the road tonight and is 9-8-2 as the visitor this season. It sits four points behind rival Philadelphia for Atlantic Division bragging rights and will not have blueliner Deryk Engelland the next three games after he was suspended for an illegal check to the head of Chicago forward Marcus Kruger.
Malkin has 15 points (6g, 9a) during a six-game scoring streak for a Penguins team averaging 4.4 goals per game over its last five tests. James Neal is riding a six-game point streak as well, with five goals and three assists over that stretch. Steve Sullivan is one point shy of 700 in his career and Bylsma sits two wins from tying Michel Therrien for second-most in franchise history with 135.
The Jets will close out a six-game homestand tonight and are 3-1-1 so far on the residency after Thursday's 4-0 blanking of the Montreal Canadiens.
Ondrej Pavelec turned aside 27 shots for his third shutout of the season and ninth of his career, while Blake Wheeler scored twice and added an assist for Winnipeg, which is 12-5-1 as the host and has won seven of 10 games overall (7-2-1). Tanner Glass and Tim Stapleton also scored in a winning effort. The Jets are tied with Boston for the most home victories this season.
"We focused a little more and executed our game a little better," said Glass. "I don't think, you know there's no big secret we just executed a little better than we did in past nights and it makes for a little easier game."
Jets center Bryan Little (back) did not play Thursday and could miss tonight's game against the Pens.
Winnipeg and Pittsburgh are playing the second of four meetings tonight and the Jets escaped with a 2-1 win back on Oct. 17 up north. Glass had a goal in that one and Pavelec made 28 saves to halt a season-opening three-game losing streak for Winnipeg. Michalek posted the lone goal for the Penguins.
Pittsburgh has won 11 of the last 13 games against the Winnipeg franchise, outscoring the opposition by a 49-27 margin in that time.