Story by Scott Taylor, Photos by Shawn Coates
Craig Adams scored his first two goals of the season and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-1 on Friday night. Yeah, that’s right, Craig Adams.
Not the guy you’d expect to light it up when the mighty Penguins come to town.
On a night when Hockey Night in Canada even dragged ol’ Don Cherry to Winnipeg, the Jets proved once again that while they try and try and try, they have few legitimate scorers, not enough goaltending and take dumb penalties. And they take those dumb penalties in bunches.
While the home crowd desperately wanted the officiating crew to vacate the building, the Jets took two late penalties, found themselves behind the eight-ball and James Neal took advantage. Neal scored with the Jets two men short and only 4:49 left in regulation and that did it.
Neal’s goal gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead and despite a solid goal by Andrew Ladd at 18:25 of the third period, Adams scored his second of the night into a empty net at 19:32 and suddenly the Jets had their third consecutive home loss and their third loss in four games.
“I thought we really came back in the second and battled hard. I thought we had some really good chances, but Fleury kept them in the game,” said Jets head coach Claude Noel. “I think pretty much every player battled hard. A goal would have been good, especially in the second. It would have got the fans into the game and really given us a boost.”
The Jets started quickly, then dragged their butts for the final 12 minutes of the first period and were outshot 12-6 in the first period and outscored 1-0.
The Jets had a solid second period and outshot Pittsburgh 14-9, but they couldn’t solve the mystery of Marc-Andre Fleury, and found themselves down 1-0 heading into the third.
In the final period, Winnipeg was right in it until the final five minutes when the Penguins found themselves with a two-man advantage and a chance to put it away and as the Penguins always seem to do, they took advantage of it.
Neal ripped a one-timer off Ondrej Pavelec’s pads, it was 2-0 and the Jets were done.
Zach Bogosian returned to the Jets lineup and played 25:38 solid minutes. Eric Tangradi played his first game with the Jets and Noel thought he played well.
“I thought Bogosian was good,” said Noel. “He skated well and gave us the energy he gives us every game. When Toby (Enstrom) got hurt, Zach was real good. I liked Tangradi. I thought you noticed him in the game. He played hard. I liked him.”
The injury to Enstrom really worried Noel.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with Enstrom, but I can tell you it’s not going to be day-to-day. When he came off the ice, he looked like he was in a lot of pain.”
Despite the outcome, Noel was pleased with his team’s effort against a very good Penguins team.
“I thought our guys left their hearts on the ice,” Noel said. “We battled and our guys were real good but Fleury was up to the task. You just have to keep working hard and moving forward. We have to keep positive and take out of the game, the good things that we did.”
With the loss, the Jets fell to 5-7-1 on the season. They’ll face the Boston Bruins on Sunday at MTS Centre, 5 p.m. on TSN Jets TV.
(All photos by Shawn Coates)