Penguins, Jets look to ignite offenses (Oct 29, 2017)
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- A pair of teams with no shortage of offensive potential will be looking to ignite that firepower when the Winnipeg Jets host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday night.
Pittsburgh (7-4-1) is coming off a 2-1 loss Saturday night in Minnesota, following consecutive 2-1 overtime victories earlier in the week in which Phil Kessel scored the winner both times.
"I don't think we're good enough 5-on-5 right now. We tend to be one and done in the offensive zone," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told reporters after Saturday's loss.
Winnipeg (4-3-2) was on the receiving end of one of those 2-1 overtime losses when the teams met Thursday in Pittsburgh. The Jets also fell 2-1 in overtime Friday night in Columbus.
For Winnipeg, a putrid power play has been hurting them. The Jets went 0-for-6 in Columbus following an 0-for-2 effort against Pittsburgh. The Jets are converting at 12.9 percent with the man-advantage, the fifth-worst rate in the NHL.
"Our breakouts, we weren't able to get clean entries. Every time we got the puck we were standing still, everyone was standing still," captain Blake Wheeler told reporters following the latest effort.
Sunday's game could see the NHL debut of Pittsburgh rookie goaltender Casey DeSmith. He was called up from the minors earlier in the week to take the place of Antti Niemi, who was waived earlier this week.
No. 1 goaltender Matt Murray started Saturday night's game in St. Paul and suffered his first regulation loss of the year, so there's a good chance Sullivan may want to see what he has in DeSmith while playing back-to-back nights on the road.
Pittsburgh is without the services of defenseman Justin Schultz, who suffered a concussion earlier this week and is on injured reserve.
Winnipeg will likely turn to Connor Hellebuyck, who has gone 4-0-1 in his five starts this season. Steve Mason has struggled to an 0-3-1 record in four starts, but is coming off a solid outing against Columbus.
Coach Paul Maurice has been preaching a more responsible defensive game this season for his squad. After a bumpy start to the year in which they lost 7-2 to Toronto and 6-3 to Calgary, the Jets have only lost once in regulation in the seven games since (4-1-2) while surrendering only 17 goals in the process.
Now it's a matter of getting the offense going.
"It's such a fine line. Obviously (Pittsburgh) has a very good team. A lot of power up front, a really good power play," defenseman Tyler Myers told reporters following Friday's game. "It's focusing on what we have to do, though. It's playing our game, playing the way we know we have to to be successful."