With his future in Pittsburgh secure, Marc-Andre Fleury can shift his attention back to hockey and a career-best shutout streak.
Fleury will likely be between the pipes as he tries to register the longest shutout streak in Penguins’ history Thursday night against a Winnipeg Jets team that isn’t having tremendous success scoring but has still managed to compile one of its longest point streaks since relocating from Atlanta.
Fleury will remain in Pittsburgh through at least the 2018-19 season after completing an extension worth $23 million this week.
"Just nice to get it over with, not think about it anymore and just go play some hockey and try to win some games," Fleury said. "Just focus on hockey and not anything else."
The Penguins netminder posted three shutouts in the four games before the deal was announced, including back-to-back ones against Buffalo on Saturday and Los Angeles last Thursday. His scoreless streak of 154:46 is 18:21 shy of breaking Tomas Vokoun’s franchise record set March 22-April 2, 2013.
Fleury was on the bench in Tuesday’s visit to Minnesota and Thomas Greiss made 33 saves in a 4-1 victory, his first of the season. The Penguins (8-2-1) have outscored opponents 23-4 during a five-game win streak and Sidney Crosby has a team-best 10 points (three goals, seven assists).
Chris Kunitz scored his fifth goal in three games Tuesday and has eight points in his last four.
Goals could be harder to come by against a Winnipeg team that’s allowed six during a 5-0-1 stretch, its second-longest point streak since arriving from Atlanta before the 2011-12 season.
The Jets (7-5-1) had a seven-game point streak April 6-22, 2013, and had a franchise-best nine-gamer in 2005-06 when they were the Thrashers.
After posting the first of back-to-back shutouts for Winnipeg, Ondrej Pavelec made 23 saves in a 3-1 victory over visiting Nashville on Tuesday. The Jets, who had scored one goal or fewer in three straight games, tallied two power-play goals in the first 5 1/2 minutes and went 4 for 4 on the penalty kill.
Winnipeg has not allowed a goal in the 12 times it’s been short-handed in the last four games after letting opponents go 6 for 21 (28.6 percent) with a man advantage in the previous five contests.
"We’re a little bit better balanced on the defensive side of the puck right now, and our goaltending has been really good," said coach Paul Maurice, whose team has scored 11 goals during the point streak. "Any mistakes we make we’re not answering for right now because our goaltender has closed them off."
Pittsburgh is 11 for 24 (45.8 percent) on the power play during its win streak and hasn’t allowed a goal in the 30 times it’s been short-handed in the past eight contests.
The Penguins have won four straight over the Jets and 19 of the last 22 meetings with the franchise. Fleury was required to make just 13 saves in a 4-2 win at Winnipeg on April 3 but needed his teammates’ support for a 6-5 home victory Jan. 5.
He is 15-2-0 with a 2.17 goals-against average in his last 17 matchups with the Jets franchise but has allowed five goals in two of the last four meetings. He has a 1.33 GAA in three consecutive wins in Winnipeg.
Evgeni Malkin has recorded at least one point in all 11 games this season and has six goals and 10 assists in seven contests against the Jets.
Crosby, who leads the NHL with 19 points, has eight goals and 14 assists in his last nine games against the Winnipeg franchise.