Aston-Reese breaks tie in 3rd as Penguins down Jets 4-3
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — It took offense from players up and down the lineup to push the Pittsburgh Penguins past Winnipeg.
Zach Aston-Reese scored the tiebreaking goal with 5:12 remaining off a perfect pass from Phil Kessel, and the Penguins rallied past the Jets 4-3 on Tuesday night.
Derek Grant pulled the Penguins even 5:08 into the third period. Sidney Crosby and Riley Sheahan also scored for Pittsburgh (10-8-5).
It was the first goal of the season for Grant, and the second for both Sheahan and Aston-Reese.
“It’s huge when you get contributions like that from throughout your lineup, especially in the bottom six,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “I just think that makes us that much more difficult to play against and on a night like tonight, it’s the difference in the hockey game.”
Crosby also gave the third and fourth lines a lot of credit for their performance.
“Yeah, they’re doing a lot of good things and a lot of those guys are a big part of killing penalties and getting big kills for us, so to see them chip in offensively is great,” he said. “They deserve it with how hard they work.”
Mark Scheifele scored twice for the Jets (13-8-2), and Brandon Tanev had their other goal.
“We’ve just got to play the way we know how to,” Scheifele said. “We get away from it, we start doing things that aren’t part of our strategy. We turn pucks over, we don’t get pucks deep. We’ve just got to simplify in those areas. We’re a simple team. We get it deep, we work teams in the offensive zone and make them go an extra 30-50 feet every time.”
Head coach Paul Maurice agreed that his Jets lost their way in the final period.
“We gave up five shots in the third,” he said. “It wasn’t a tilt to the ice by any means. I think we’re going to like our chances better than theirs in the third. Gave up a tough one, got a bad break on one and it’s in the back of the net. That’s it. It’s a tight game.”
Tanev got Winnipeg started at 7:01 of the first period with his fourth goal this season on a short-handed breakaway against Casey DeSmith, who made 24 saves.
Crosby tied it at 18:13 with a slick backhand in close that fooled goalie Connor Hellebuyck. It was Crosby’s 10th of the season.
Scheifele put the Jets back in front 39 seconds into the second on a feed from captain Blake Wheeler. But that only lasted until Sheahan got credit for poking a loose puck over the line after Hellebuyck failed to corral it at 4:40.
Wheeler also set up Scheifele’s second goal of the night and 13th this season, which rocketed past DeSmith before he had much time to react at 16:00.
Grant tied it once more for the Penguins when he beat Hellebuyck between his legs. Kessel then set up Aston-Reese for his second of the season with a nice feed to the front of the net.
“We were up for this one,” Grant said. “We didn’t give up in here. We stuck to the game plan and tried to play the right way the whole game. We got some big saves from Casey … some big blocks from guys and we really wanted this one.”
NOTES: DeSmith has been thrust into the starter’s job for the Penguins with Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Matt Murray sidelined by a lower-body injury after time off due to a concussion earlier this season. … Hellebuyck finished with 26 saves. … Crosby is closing in on Mario Lemieux’s franchise record of 915 games. He has to play 33 more games to pass the Hall of Famer. “With some of the injuries I’ve had, you appreciate it more and more,” Crosby said. “Players always say as they get older they appreciate it more and more because you only have a window to play, it’s only a small window. He did so much for the team and the city, just being able to play at this age, I still have that competitive in me and I don’t feel any older. It’s good to be in that company, I guess.”
Penguins: At the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.
Jets: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.
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