Pens Blank Jets for 14th Straight Victory
PITTSBURGH – Pascal Dupuis scored twice and Evgeni Malkin had a goal in his return to the lineup, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-0 victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night for their 14th straight win.
Chris Kunitz had a goal and an assist and Sidney Crosby had two assists to push his league-best points total to 56. The victory capped a giddy 24 hours for the Penguins, who sit within three victories of their own NHL record for consecutive wins. Malkin, back from an upper body injury, got his first goal in three weeks.
Tomas Vokoun stopped 20 shots and even recorded his first assist while getting his 50th career shutout.
Al Montoya, making just his fourth start of the season, made 39 saves for Winnipeg but the Jets were no match for the NHL’s hottest team.
The league record for consecutive wins was set by the Mario Lemieux-led Penguins in 1992-93, and appears to be in serious jeopardy, though Lemieux – who now co-owns the franchise – hardly appears to mind.
Pittsburgh hosts the New York Islanders on Saturday and Buffalo next Tuesday.
Hockey’s highest-scoring line wasted little time getting to work against the little-used Montoya, making his seventh appearance this season.
Kunitz put the Penguins in front 15:03 into the first period, though the play was all Crosby, who flicked a no-look backhand pass from behind the net to Kunitz in the left circle. The puck somehow found its way through a pair of Winnipeg defenders and by Montoya for Kunitz’s 20th goal of the season.
Malkin scored his first goal since March 4 when a centering pass from James Neal hit off the Russian’s skate twice and rolled over Montoya’s right pad.
Dupuis singlehandedly doubled the lead in the second period. He scored his 16th goal of the season off a feed from Kunitz then added his 17th later in the period when he faked a pass to Tanner Glass and fired a wrist shot over Montoya’s glove. The short-handed goal pushed the lead to 4-0.