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Quiet Night: Jets Buzz Penguins, Ground Crosby & Malkin 4-1

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Pittsburgh Penguins Game, Lose 4-1 Winnipeg Jets

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ two-game winning streak landed with a thud after the Winnipeg Jets scored a pair of goals 22 seconds apart late in the second period. The Penguins’ patchwork defense was missing Kris Letang, Jeff Petry, and Marcus Pettersson, who was a scratch due to illness, and they struggled greatly to create offense.

Winnipeg controlled the game for most of the second period and kept the Penguins to the perimeter in the third during their 4-1 win at PPG Paints Arena.

The Penguins complete the second game of back-to-backs Saturday in Raleigh against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Penguins narrowly avoided a pair of first-period deficits. Winnipeg had two goals disallowed, one on an offside challenge, and officials immediately waved off the second due to goalie interference. Coach Rick Bowness challenged their second disallowed goal, but replay confirmed the call, leading to an unsuccessful Penguins power play at the end of the first period.

Winnipeg scored first, a power-play goal midway through the first period. Penguins starting goalie Dustin Tokarski left a good rebound in the slot and missed a chance to cover a subsequent loose puck, leading to a scramble in the crease. Blake Wheeler outdueled the Penguins penalty killers and slammed it into the net.

Later in the first period, Kasperi Kapanen chased a loose puck to center ice and stole it from Dylan Demelo for a two-on-one break. Kapanen floated a pass toward the net for Drew O’Connor (2), who chipped it past Winnipeg goalie David Rittich.

The second period was a little less fruitful for the Penguins. There were no disallowed goals, but Penguins defenseman Mark Friedman, subbing for a sick Marcus Pettersson, did draw the ire of Winnipeg forward Adam Lowry. The pair exchanged pleasantries and face-washes during a mid-second-period Winnipeg power play.

Late in the second period, a pair of Winnipeg goals involved Friedman in the defensive zone.

Mark Scheifele scored his first allowed goal with about three minutes remaining. Sheiefele was the late trailer on the Winnipeg rush. As Friedman cheated towards the puck, Wheeler zipped a pass across the slot for the open Scheifele with Penguins winger Jason Zucker chasing. Scheifele (25) snapped a wrister past Tokarski.

Then, 22 seconds later, Nikolaj Ehlers got past Friedman on the rush. Ehlers, playing his seventh game this season, scored his third goal with a low wrister from the left-wing circle.

The Penguins were outshot 30-17 through two periods, and a 1-1 game was quickly a 3-1 Winnipeg lead.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was off the bench for about five minutes early in the second period with a skate issue. Crosby is the last Penguins player not to have the quick-detach blade feature.

The third period wasn’t much kinder to the home team. The Pittsburgh Penguins generated only four shots on goal in the first 12 minutes of the final period.

Zucker tried to inject some life into the Penguins with a fight early in the third period. However, after a couple of scoring chances, the Penguins got lost in transition. Scheifele (26) was left wide open in the left-wing circle and easily ripped the shot into the yawning cage.

And that was the end.

Tokarski stopped 36 of 40 shots. Winnipeg goalie David Rittich only saw 23 shots.

Evgeni Malkin had only one shot on goal. Sidney Crosby did not have any.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.