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Photo Credit: © Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

JNR: Depleted Defense Lead Jets to Victory Over Penguins

The Winnipeg Jets beat the Pittsburgh Penguins on the back of their really inexperienced defense. The team was without Morrissey and Kulikov, but it didn’t matter as the rest of the lineup played really well. Oddly enough, it was this ragtag bunch of defenders who ended up winning the game for the team as they contributed most of the goals in the game. Hellebuyck was solid and Ville Heinola scored his first career goal as the Jets got a feel good victory to end their road trip.

First Period

It didn’t take long for one of hockey’s biggest starts to open the scoring in this one. Sidney Crosby got the Penguins on the board just 32 seconds into the game as somehow the Jets left him wide open in front of the net. Not the best strategy as Crosby’s a pretty decent hockey player.

Just as everyone thought that the game might take a really bad turn, the Jets answered back with a few good shifts. The Jets managed to score the tying goal just a few minutes later as Ville Heinola lit the lamp for the first time of his career. It was passed into the high slot by Scheifele and Heinola pounded it past Murray to tie the game. Wheeler made sure to scoop up the puck as that one’s going in the trophy case.

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The Jets kept pouring it on after that as Ehlers scored his first of the year. He stole the puck as Pittsburgh was trying to break out and put it top corner to give the Jets the lead.

Both teams had some chances after and both sides rung a shot off the post but couldn’t score. The Jets managed to end the first period up by a goal.

Second Period

After a surprisingly strong opening frame, the Jets continued to play well in the second period. It was another young defensemen who gave the Jets a two goal lead as Tucker Poolman was able to find a lane from the point.

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The wackiness continued as the second period went on with the Jets continually breaking up the Penguins in their own end and causing plenty of turnovers. After another really good shift by the top line, the Jets managed to score their fourth goal of the game as Neal Pionk found his way into the crease and slid the puck past Murray.

The Jets killed off a penalty later in the period as Heinola was sent to the box for interference. There were a few chances, but Hellebuyck shut the door and the Jets were able to escape unscathed.

With two minutes left in the period, Winnipeg thought they had scored a fifth goal as Scheifele made a beautiful move off the wall and snapped in top shelf. Unfortunately, upon further review, Wheeler entered the zone off-side and the goal was called back after the Penguins won the challenge.

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Regardless, it was still a great period for Winnipeg as they headed into the third period up 4-1.

Third Period

Up by three goals, all the Jets wanted to do was to play a clean period and not give up any easy chances. They did exactly that in the first half as they gave up a few chances, but nothing too dangerous.

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Midway through the period, Winnipeg took another penalty as Bitetto went off for tripping. The Jets answered the call once again and killed off their second penalty of the game. They did an excellent job of retrieving the puck and winning battles along the wall to prevent a dangerous setup by Pittsburgh.

Even though the Jets gave up a few too many shots in the third period, Hellebuyck was excellent and turned aside everything he faced.

TL;DR Why the Jets Won

Some things can’t be explained. The Jets were clearly out-matched on paper, but the defense banded together and managed to contribute three out of four goals. Couple that with a stellar performance from Hellebuyck and the Jets got their second victory of the season.

Jetsnation’s Top Gun

There were plenty of options for the Top Gun tonight as Hellebuyck was outstanding all game. However, scoring your first career goal as an 18 year old defensemen takes precedence as Heinola is your player of the game.

Such an exciting moment for the young Finn also comes with some history as he’s the first player born in the 2000’s to score an NHL goal. A great piece of history and another great game for the youngster.

Boxscore

Next Flight

The Jets are finally done their opening four game road trip and are heading back to Winnipeg for their home opener on Thursday evening. It’s going to be a great atmosphere as the Wild are coming to town. Puck drop is at 7 pm CST and you won’t want to miss it.