It is only one game, and netted only two points for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
But in their first game after the all-star break — a 3-0 victory against Winnipeg Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena — the Penguins turned in the kind of solid, 60-minute performance that was all too rare during the first three-plus months of the 2023-24 season.
They even scored a couple of power-play goals. Yes, plural.
Those came after the Penguins had taken a 1-0 lead, so they served mostly as insurance, since Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry stopped 23 shots to record his league-leading sixth shutout of the season.
The Penguins and Jets will have a rematch Saturday night in Winnipeg. Whether Jets defenseman Brenden Dillon will appear in that one remains to be seen.
He was assessed a match penalty at 4:15 of the second period, after using his left shoulder to deliver a blow to the head of Penguins center Noel Acciari as Acciari was entering the Jets’ zone.
Acciari was dazed by the blow and held a towel to his mouth before he was helped to the bench, and then to the locker room.
There was no immediate word on the nature or severity of his injury.
Winnipeg winger Cole Perfetti was chosen to serve Dillon’s five-minute penalty. Before Perfetti stepped back onto the ice, the Penguins scored two power-play goals to swell their lead to 3-0.
Per NHL Rule 21.1, Dillon is suspended until the NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman rules on the incident.
That is not the first lost-time injury Dillon has caused at PPG Paints Arena.
Two years ago, he broke then-Penguins center Teddy Blueger’s jaw with a hit into the boards.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was behind an NHL bench for the 800th time in his career, while first-line left winger Jake Guentzel appeared in his 500th game in the league.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have suffered with slow starts at times this season, but that wasn’t an issue against the Jets.
They ran up a 7-1 edge in shots during the first half of the opening period, and one of those eluded Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck.
That one came off the stick of Kris Letang, who picked off a clearing attempt by Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey, carried the puck into the slot and threw a backhander from between the hash marks that caromed off the right post and into the net at 7:16.
Because the goal, Letang’s fourth of the season, came off a turnover, there were no assists.
The Jets finished the period with eight shots, the most dangerous of which came from Vladislav Namestnikov with 55.3 seconds to go before the intermission, but Jarry was able to deny him to preserve the Penguins’ 1-0 lead.
The Penguins had scored on just one of their final 29 power plays heading into the all-star break, but struck twice while the Jets were trying to kill Dillon’s match penalty.
Jeff Carter made it 2-0 at 7:33, sweeping a puck into the net from in front after Erik Karlsson’s wrist shot from the right point had struck the skate of Jets defenseman Nate Schmidt as it neared the crease.
Lars Eller got the other assist on the goal, Carter’s sixth.
Bryan Rust struck 90 seconds later, setting up near the right side of the crease and tapping in a feed from Jake Guentzel, who was at the inner edge of the left circle, for his 12th of the season.
Sidney Crosby got the second assist, extending his scoring streak to eight games.
Winnipeg got a chance with the extra man when Jarry was penalized for holding Jets winger Gabriel Vilardi at 17:37, but the Penguins were able to hold the Jets without a shot during those two minutes.
Jarry preserved the Penguins’ three-goal advantage six minutes into the third period, as he denied Jets center Adam Lowry from point-blank range, and a video review saved his shutout less than a minute later.
Winnipeg center Mark Scheifele beat him from the bottom of the left circle at 6:44, but the Penguins challenged that Vilardi had been offside and replays confirmed they were correct, so the goal was disallowed.
Ryan Graves picked up an interference minor at 9:52, but Winnipeg was unable to score while the Penguins were down a man.
After the game, the Pittsburgh Penguins canceled their practice, which had been scheduled for Wednesday at noon at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.