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Penguins rally to edge road-weary Jets 3-2 in a shootout

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry begins to celebrate after blocking a shot by Winnipeg Jets' Pierre-Luc Dubois during an NHL hockey game shootout in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. AP Photo / Gene J. Puskar

Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan isn’t thrilled with what he’s seeing on the ice these days. The scoreboard is another matter.

Kasperi Kapanen and Jeff Carter scored nine seconds apart in the third period to erase a two-goal deficit and Sidney Crosby scored the only goal of the shootout as the Penguins rallied by road-weary Winnipeg 3-2 on Sunday for their fifth straight win.

Pittsburgh trailed for more than 40 minutes and spent far too much time chasing the Jets around PPG Paints Arena. It’s not an ideal recipe for a team that wants to make a deep playoff run. Still, Sullivan’s team is competing amid the mistakes. For now, he will take it.

Read more: ANALYSIS: Competition becoming more than just a buzzword for Jets

“I thought it was a high-event game on both sides and fortunately we found a way to win,” he said. “But I don’t think it was the game that we want to play most nights.”

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Another spectacular performance by All-Star goaltender Tristan Jarry, a fortunate bounce off Kapanen’s skate and a miscue by Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck let the Penguins escape anyway.

Kapanen began the comeback by redirecting a pass from Evgeni Malkin to bring Pittsburgh within a goal 6:55 into the third period.

The arena had barely died down when Carter tied it after he knocked down Hellebuyck’s clearing attempt and laced a shot into the open net before Helleybuyck could scramble back into position.

Kyle Connor scored his 22nd goal of the season for the Jets and Blake Wheeler scored in his second game back from a lower-body injury that forced him to miss more than a month.

Hellebuyck made 36 saves, but Winnipeg finished 3-3-2 during a three-week journey that began on Jan. 2 and included contests in three different time zones.

Read more: Winnipeg Jets get back into the swing of things with challenging road trip

“We were in a very good game today,” Jets interim coach Dave Lowry said. “I like the resiliency that our group showed.”

Despite playing their second game in less than 24 hours, the Jets hardly looked fatigued. Not so much for the Penguins who – despite being given Saturday off following a win in Columbus on Friday night – looked a step slow at times against a team that hasn’t played inside its own arena in five weeks thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Wheeler wasted little time giving the Jets the lead, taking a lead pass from Mark Scheifele and flicking a backhand over Jarry’s glove 3:28 into the first period.

Winnipeg Jets’ Blake Wheeler (26) returns to his bench after scoring during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. AP Photo / Gene J. Puskar

Winnipeg had a chance to double its advantage twice late in the period but Jarry turned away breakaways by both Connor and Wheeler.

Connor earned a measure of revenge 8:11 into the second when he collected a cross-ice feed from Paul Stastny and buried a laser from the right circle for a 2-0 lead.

Hellebuyck kept Pittsburgh at bay until midway through the third when Kapanen’s skate created his ninth goal. Carter added his 12th on a shot from the corner just above the goal line.

“I just had a late decision because it looked like it was going to be icing for a second,” Hellebuyck said after falling to 1-3-2 in his last six starts.

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“Then when I decided, my only play was to put it behind the net and they just have a guy side open right there. Just seems like my luck right now.”

The Jets return home to Canada Life Centre Tuesday night as they welcome the Florida Panthers in front of 250 lottery-winning fans.

Click to play video: 'Weekly Jets recap w/John Shannon: January 20' Weekly Jets recap w/John Shannon: January 20
Weekly Jets recap w/John Shannon: January 20 – Jan 20, 2022

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