By ELI KABERON
(AP) — Regardless of who’s in the lineup, the Pittsburgh Penguins just keep on winning – especially when they’re on home ice.
The same is true when they host the Winnipeg franchise.
The Penguins look to match the longest home winning streak in franchise history Sunday with a 13th consecutive victory over the Jets in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins (30-12-1) have reeled off 11 straight home wins since Nov. 15, their longest since a record 12-game run, set Feb. 22-March 30. During their current streak, a key has been the play of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, one of a handful of Penguins who hasn’t had to miss time this season because of injury or suspension.
Fleury has a 1.80 goals-against average with a .943 save percentage in his nine starts during the streak. He is 29-3-0 with a 1.74 GAA in his last 34 games at Consol Energy Center.
In Friday’s 5-2 home victory over the New York Rangers, Fleury stopped 33 shots. Chris Kunitz and Jussi Jokinen scored two goals apiece while Sidney Crosby added a goal and two assists.
Kunitz and Jokinen each scored once in the first period and Pittsburgh has outscored opponents 9-0 over the first 20 minutes in its last five home games.
“We obviously got a big start there. That set the tone for the rest of the game,” Crosby told the team’s website. “(Fleury) was good. There were a lot of shots, but he found a way to keep the puck out of the net for the most part and we capitalized on the chances we got.”
The Penguins have been without center Evgeni Malkin since Dec. 14 because of a leg injury. Defensemen Kris Letang and Paul Martin are also out, forcing coach Dan Bylsma to constantly adjust his lineup. Against the Rangers, Jokinen moved to wing on a line alongside Brian Gibbons and Brandon Sutter, and had his first multi-goal game since a hat trick on Oct. 8.
“We know at this point there’s going to be different combinations,” said Crosby, the NHL’s leader with 62 points (23 goals, 39 assists). “With guys out of the lineup like we’ve had, it’s what we’ve gotten used to.”
Crosby has recorded a point in all but one home game this season, tallying 11 goals and 23 assists, and now gets to face one of the NHL’s worst defensive teams.
The Jets (19-20-5), who have allowed 121 goals on the season, have surrendered 21 in their last six road games. Not surprisingly, the team has lost five of those contests.
Crosby typically frustrates the Jets, amassing eight goals and 11 assists during a seven-game point streak in the series. He also has five goals and 11 assists in his last five home games versus Winnipeg.
Like many teams, the Jets have struggled in Pittsburgh. The franchise, dating back to when they played in Atlanta, has gone 0-10-2 in Pittsburgh since a 4-2 win on Dec. 27, 2006.
This will be the first meeting of the season, and the Penguins have taken 17 of the last 20 matchups.
The Jets are coming off Saturday’s 4-1 loss at Boston. Dustin Byfuglien opened the scoring in the first period for Winnipeg, which had 37 shots on goal but went 0 of 3 on the power play.
Winnipeg is 0 of 9 with the man advantage in its last five games overall.
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