NHL

Beyak: Jets pay the price for giving Pens chance after chance

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Dennis Beyak
1/5/2014 10:33:06 PM
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With the Penguins being one of the highest scoring teams in the league and the Jets a team that surrenders a lot of goals, perhaps the high scoring affair should have been expected.

It had been 10 games since the Penguins had given up the first goal of the game at home and eight games since they had trailed 2-0 at home, but that was the case after one with a couple of Jets rookies doing the damage. Jacob Trouba, with his fourth of the year, opened the scoring 1:47 in with assists from Olli Jokinen and Adam Pardy. Pardy was back in after missing the last four games.

Sidney Crosby, the NHL's leading scorer, was awarded a penalty shot and a chance to tie the game, but was stopped by Al Montoya.

In the final seconds of the period, Mark Scheifele gave the Jets the 2-0 lead with his seventh goal of the season, all of which have come on the road. Assists on the goal went to Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian.

Shots in the first period were 11-11.

The Penguins got their offence going early in the second on a goal from Evgeni Malkin, his first game back after missing 10 due to injury. James Neal stole the puck from Dustin Byfuglien to start the play and the Pens were on the board at 1:06 of the second.

Neal then went to work and scored two in 34 seconds and by the 4:59 mark of the period, the Penguins had the lead at 3-2.

Blake Wheeler, with his team leading 16th, evened the game at 6:02. Bryan Little had the lone assist.

All was quiet for the next five minutes other than Montoya and Marc-Andre Fleury being busy making saves. At 11:38, Jussi Jokinen put the Pens back in front, but before the high scoring period could end, Evander Kane scored two goals only 2:11 apart to regain the lead for the Jets. His second of the night, 14th of the year and seventh in the last 11 games came at 19:42. It was 5-4 after two with shots in the second favouring the Jets 13-11.

The Penguins started the third with an offensive push, but the Jets weathered the storm for the time being. But another giveaway resulted in Malkin's second of the night coming at 8:29.

The winner then came at 12:38 off a face-off with a Matt Niskanen shot going off a Jets player's stick and in.

The Jets had some great chances, but could not beat Fleury. The best opportunity came from close in off the stick of Andrew Ladd, but Fleury made a great save to keep the Pens ahead. In the final seconds Scheifele had Fleury down, but his shot from close in went over the net. The final shots were 39-34 for the Penguins.

The Jets got 11 shots from their defence with Mark Stuart leading the way with four. Jussi Jokinen led all players with eight shots on goal. Kane led the Jets with six. It was Kane's 15th two-goal game of his career.

A pair of Jets rookies are on impressive scoring runs. Mark Scheifele has six goals and 11 assists in his last 21 games, while Jacob Trouba has two goals and three assists in his last six games.

Blake Wheeler is now tied for second in team points with Byfuglien with 32. Byfuglien has three goals and seven assists in his last 12 games, but was a minus-three on the day. Leading all NHL defencemen in shots, Byfuglien was held to just a pair by the Pens

The Jets were held scoreless in three power play opportunities and have not scored on the man advantage in six in a row after scoring nine power play goals in eight games.

Eric O'Dell played his fifth game of the season, but was limited to just 4:25 of ice time.

The win for the Penguins was their 12th straight at home, marking a new franchise record.

Coach Claude Noel started his post-game news conference by saying that the Jets made“too many mistakes. You have to defend against this team.”

The Jets simply give up too many goals and this is not on the goalies. There were far too many grade-A scoring chances against and it was the Jets' 25th one-goal game of the season (The team is 10-10-5 in those games.)

“We don't protect the lead, we play with it,” continued Noel. “We're one up going into the third, first five or six minutes we are solid, we want to play on our toes, don't sit back and manage every shift. You have to play the right way. There were a lot of break downs in our end. They gave us five, we gave them six. Our plan was not to win the game 7-6.”

The Jets now return home, winless on their three-game road trip, to face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday (available on TSN Jets and TSN 1290,) the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday afternoon and the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday.

It will be an interesting start to the week for players, as the remainder of the Olympic teams will be announced. 

Jussi Jokinen and James Neal (Photo: Canadian Press)

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(Photo: Canadian Press)
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