The Jets did get off to a good start at home, but it was the visitors who got the last laugh, coming from behind in the third period to take a 4-3 victory over the hometown team.
Although low scoring, the first period began rather quickly, and proved to be eventful beyond just the two goals scored. 14 seconds into a Bryan Little tripping minor, Jets’ penalty killer Brandon Tanev capitalized on an offensive chance, as he beat the Penguins to a loose puck, dig a quick lap around the Pittsburgh defensive zone, and buring a hard, low wrist shot past netminder Casey DeSmith five-hole seven minutes into the game.
Pens’ captain Sidney Crosby responded for the visitors on one of his patented backhands off of a great feed from linemate Jake Guentzel. Crosby’s 10thof the season came with just 1:47 to go in the opening frame, and somehow served as just his first goal at Bell MTS Place since early 2013.
Although the goals are typically what gets the attention of the crowd, a trainwreck of a collision between 6-foot-5, 270-pound Dustin Byfuglien and 6-foot-7, 260-pound Jamie Oleksiak just a few minutes into the contest is what got the fine folk of Winnipeg abuzz. The Jets’ defender appeared quite dazed following the wreck and was forced down Winnipeg’s tunnel for repairs. He came back into the game later in the first period – much to the delight and applause of those gathered in downtown Winnipeg.
After struggling with his release on a power play one-timer, Mark Scheifele did not play his final shift of the opening frame, but came out and appeared no worse for wear at the start of the second period scoring just 39 seconds in. Pittsburgh led the shot game through 20 minutes, pulling ahead of Winnipeg 14-10 after one.
A great zone entry set-up by Nik Ehlers and Blake Wheeler led to Scheifele’s 12thmarker of the season in the first shift of the second stanza. But just four minutes later, Riley Sheahan pounced on a Derek Grant rebound, knotting the game back up at twos with just five minutes gone in the second frame.
The period remained without another goal until the four minute mark, where Scheifele picked up a nice chip pass from Wheeler, and walked into his second of the game, on a hard wrist shot, far side – a shot that a very out of position DeSmith should have saved.
Then in the third period, it was Hellebuyck’s time to allow a soft goal. After just stepping over the Jets’ blueline, Grant let a squeaker of a wrist shot go, that somehow found it’s way past the Winnipeg netminder, bringing the two teams back to a tie game.
Then with just five minutes remaining in the game, Phil Kessel outworked his Jets’ counterparts and centred a bouncing puck to Zach Aston-Reese, who collected his second of the season on a wild whack from the low slot. Winnipeg applied pressure for the duration of the remaining five minutes, but couldn’t buy another marker, ultimately falling 4-3 in a third period collapse.
Hellebuyck did stop 26 of 30 shots, but gave up a very weak game-tying goal in the defeat. DeSmith pushed aside 24 pucks, and picked up Pittsburgh’s 10th win of the season Tuesday night.
With the loss, Winnipeg has now moved to 13-8-2 on the season, and currently sit fourth in the Central Division, trailing Nashville, Colorado and Minnesota. The Jets now look to get back to their winning ways as they host the Chicago Blackhawks from Bell MTS Place on Thursday evening. Puck drop is set for 7:00 P.M. central, and the game can be viewed live on TSN3.