Published February 15, 2013
| Sports Network
Winnipeg, MB – Craig Adams netted a pair of goals and Marc- Andre Fleury made 25 saves to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-1 triumph over the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre.
James Neal added a key power-play tally with under five minutes remaining that helped the Penguins register their seventh win in nine games and avenge a 4-2 loss in Winnipeg back on Jan. 25.
Andrew Ladd scored with 1:35 left to play to bring the Jets within 2-1, but Adams came through with an empty-net goal just over a minute later that sealed Winnipeg's sixth setback in its last eight outings.
Ondrej Pavelec stopped 25-of-27 shots for the Jets in a hard-luck defeat.
Winnipeg played the majority of the contest without leading scorer Tobias Enstrom after the valued defenseman sustained an injured right shoulder from a hard check from Pascal Dupuis less than three minutes in.
Still, the Jets were able to hold Pittsburgh stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and their corresponding lines in check much of the way, though the Penguins got a big boost from their fourth unit in recording the lone goal of the first two periods.
Joe Vitale rushed up the left side on an early 4-on-4 situation and ripped a shot that Pavelec stopped but gave up a rebound in front, with Adams poking in the puck on his second attempt for a 1-0 Pittsburgh edge just 3:19 after the opening faceoff.
"I think [Adams] played a highlight game tonight," said Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma. "He stepped in on a fight there on [Winnipeg's James] Wright and starts the game off with a great play with Joe going to the net."
Fleury made the lead stand with a strong denial of Bryan Little in close near the end of the first period, as well as a good save on a rebound chance from Alexander Burmistrov during the initial stages of the second. The latter was one of 14 saves credited to the Pittsburgh goaltender in the middle session.
"I thought we really came back in the second," said Jets head coach Claude Noel. "We battled hard in the second period. We had some really good chances. I thought Fleury played really well to keep them in there and keep the score how it was."
Pavelec was equally as sharp, however, and kept it a 1-0 game until the Penguins were awarded with a long 5-on-3 opportunity after Jets defensemen Zach Redmond and Mark Stuart were sent off for minor penalties 24 seconds apart deep in the third period.
Pittsburgh capitalized on Neal's league-leading seventh power-play goal of the season, a one-timer off a Malkin feed that beat Pavelec from the right circle with 4:49 remaining.
Ladd gave the Jets some late life by banging home a backhander in an open right side of the net with just 1:35 left, but a giveaway by teammate Evander Kane shortly after led to a breakout that produced Adams' back-breaking empty- net tally and a 3-1 Chicago advantage with 28 seconds on the final clock.
"[Adams] 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."
Adams registered his first multi-goal effort since scoring twice at Atlanta on Oct. 13, 2006, while then with Carolina ... The Penguins have now scored the first goal in 12 of their 15 games and are 9-3-0 when doing so ... Pittsburgh improved to 16-1-1 all-time against the Jets/Thrashers when Malkin records at least one point ... Newly-acquired Jets forward Eric Tangradi had his debut for his new team come against his old one, as the 24-year-old was traded to Winnipeg from Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Tangradi had been in the Penguins' organization since 2009 and played in 45 games with the club over the past three seasons ... Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian returned to action for the first time since undergoing offseason wrist surgery ... Pittsburgh forward Beau Bennett, recalled from the minors following the Tangradi trade, played in his first NHL game, while defenseman Brooks Orpik made his 600th career appearance for the Penguins.