Penguins top Jets 4-0 to run winning streak to 8

Olli Maatta and Matt Cullen scored 11 seconds apart in the first period, Matt Murray stopped 33 shots and the surging Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-0 on Friday night for their eighth straight victory.

Maatta picked up his first goal since last March when his power-play goal beat Connor Hellebuyck 14:19 into the first period and Cullen added his fourth when Zach Aston-Reese’s centring pass went airborne and caromed off Cullen’s left shoulder and into the net. Dominik Simon also scored for Pittsburgh, picking up his sixth of the season when what appeared to be a spectacular save by Hellebuyck was overturned on replay.

Murray made the lead stand up to extend his personal winning streak to seven, tying a career best. One point out of the Eastern Conference cellar in mid-November, the Penguins have won 10 of 11 overall to close in on defending Stanley Cup champion Washington in the competitive Metropolitan Division.

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Hellebuyck finished with 29 saves for Winnipeg but the Jets remained winless in Pittsburgh since 2007, when the Jets played in Atlanta.

Pittsburgh’s eight-game run is the longest since it won eight in a row from March 26-April 7, 2016. The Penguins captured the franchise’s fourth Stanley Cup that season and after stumbling
through the early portion of the schedule, they appear ready to contend well into the spring again.

Murray’s return to form certainly helps. The 24-year-old spent much of October and November struggling with his form. He’s been dominant since returning from a 13-game absence on Dec. 15, with a 1.27 goals against average and a .961 save percentage.

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