Emotions could run high Saturday when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Winnipeg Jets.
That’s because this is a rematch from a game Tuesday in Pittsburgh that left both clubs with some frustration.
The Penguins won that game 3-0 on Tristan Jarry’s 23-save shutout, but on the flip side they lost center Noel Acciari to a concussion. He took a high hit from Jets defenseman Brenden Dillon, who got a match penalty and received a three-game suspension from the NHL Department of Player Safety.
Neither Acciari nor Dillon will play Saturday.
Each team collected a loss in the interim. Winnipeg fell 4-1 on Thursday at Philadelphia, while the Penguins dropped a 3-2 decision on Friday at Minnesota.
Pittsburgh, which is clawing to get into a playoff spot, had points in three straight games (2-0-1) before Saturday’s loss and needs to get on a roll.
On Tuesday, the Penguins responded to the hit on Acciari by scoring twice on the subsequent five-minute power play, but on Friday they were left disgusted after their replay challenge on Minnesota’s go-ahead goal did not result in an overturn. They argued that play should have been stopped because the puck went into the netting above the glass behind the goal.
“Why do the replay if you’re not going to get it right?” Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said, an indication that the Jets will be facing a miffed team.
Jarry is expected to start for the Penguins on Saturday.
Lugging a five-game losing streak (0-4-1) into this game, Winnipeg has missed what could have been a chance to move to the top of the Central Division.
The Jets have one of the best goal differentials in the league at plus-33, but they have scored just four goals in those five games.
Their confidence, however, remains strong.
“Normally, we’re scoring a few more goals than we are right now,” Winnipeg coach Rick Bowness said. “It goes back to that.
“It starts with me. We’ll pull through this. Listen, five-on-five, we’re still the best team in this league, and right now we’re not scoring goals. We’re going to stay with who the Winnipeg Jets are, and we’re going to keep working, and we’ll pull through this.”
While their coach was upfront about taking responsibility for the lull, his players were doing the same.
“Throughout the season, there’s an expectation, there’s a structure that we’ve been dominant when we’re doing, and we’ve kind of gotten away from it the last couple weeks,” Jets forward Adam Lowry said. “It starts with all of us. There are things individually we can all clean up. There’s some things structurally we can all clean up.
“When you get those (scoring) chances now, you’re just not as confident pulling the trigger. You’re deferring. You’re kind of looking for the next best option, and maybe you are the best option. There’s no secret formula, no magic potion that gives you that mojo back. We expect we’ll be better next game, and I’m confident that will happen.”
While there might be urgency, there is time for Winnipeg to pull out of its scoring doldrums and secure a strong playoff spot.
“Hopefully, get it out of our system now,” Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo said. “This group, we can handle adversity. We’re confident of that.”
–Field Level Media
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