PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Winnipeg scored two first period goals — one early, one late — and it was enough to beat the Penguins, 2-1, Monday night in front of a raucous Jets crowd.
Kyle Wellwood scored just eight seconds into the game to get Winnipeg (1-3-0, 2 points) off to a fast start and send the crowd into an early frenzy. It was just the fourth game ever for the new franchise and just their second home game at MTS Centre.
With barely over 15,000 fans, the crowd created a playoff-like environment.
“The atmosphere in the building was obvious from right in warmups and the start of the game,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “Conceding a goal in the first eight seconds got them pretty amped up. We expected their team to come hard and play with a lot of emotion and energy early on. They did exactly that. It was pretty loud in here.”
Winnipeg’s Tanner Glass ended the first period with a goal of his own with 1:33 left to give the Jets a 2-0 lead and all the momentum. Winnipeg outshot the Penguins 11-7 in a dominant opening period.
The Penguins (3-2-2, 8 points) came out with purpose in the second period, and did their best to replicate the Jets’ dominance from the first period. Pittsburgh outshot and out-chanced the Jets in the second, managing 14 shots and getting a goal from Zbynek Michalek off a faceoff win with 1:38 left to cut the deficit to 2-1 after two periods.
“Just a set play that we tried,” Michalek said. “It was just a great play by Cookie on the faceoff and Kris to give me the puck. I was just trying to hit the net and the goalie didn’t see anything.”
That score held throughout the third period as both Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec made important saves to keep the score from changing. Fleury stopped 33 of 35 shots and Pavelec turned aside 28 of 29.
“We battled hard to come back into the game, but their goalie played unreal. So did ‘Flower,’” Michalek said. “He made some amazing saves there.”
The Penguins earned a power play with just under four minutes remaining in regulation but were unable to capitalize and the Jets earned their first win of the season and first win as a new franchise.
Heading into the game, the Jets were one of three winless NHL teams. The other two, the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets, were idle Monday. Pittsburgh has now lost two in a row.
- Pittsburgh, which is playing 13 games in the first 24 days this season, was without Evgeni Malkin (knee), Tyler Kennedy (concussion-like symptoms) and Brooks Orpik (abdominal).
- Sidney Crosby (concussion) also stayed home as he continues his recovery from his injury sustained in January.