Penguins-Jets Preview

The Associated Press

As the Pittsburgh Penguins look to bounce back from their first defeat, the Winnipeg Jets hope to build on their initial victory.

Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and the Penguins hope to continue their success in this series and on the road this season while extending the Jets' struggles at home Friday night.

Pittsburgh (2-1-0) outscored Philadelphia and the New York Rangers 9-4 to win its first two games - both on the road. Malkin and Crosby each scored their first goals in Wednesday's home opener, but that was not enough to keep the Penguins from falling 5-2 to Toronto.

Pittsburgh committed eight minor penalties after being whistled for nine in the first two contests. Though the Penguins have killed 15 of those 17 penalties, they understand a lack of discipline likely means less ice time for their top players.

"Even if you kill them it takes so much energy and it takes (Crosby, Malkin and James Neal) off the ice," defenseman Brooks Orpik told the Penguins' official website. "Having those three guys on the bench isn't a good recipe for winning hockey games. We know in here we have to be a little more disciplined if we want to win hockey games."

Malkin, who led the NHL with 109 points last season and scored 23 goals while playing in Russia during the lockout, recorded four assists through the first two games while totaling only two shots but put four on net Wednesday.

Crosby had his first multipoint game after managing one assist through the first two. Neal totaled three goals in those two wins but was held off the scoresheet Wednesday and had a minus-3 rating, as did Malkin.

All three stars had big games in these teams' most recent meeting as the Penguins won 8-4 on March 20. Malkin had a second straight five-point performance against the Jets, Neal had three goals with an assist and Crosby had four assists.

That was Crosby's only appearance in last season's series, but he's had six goals and eight assists in his last four matchups against them. Pittsburgh has lost only once in the last 15 meetings when Malkin has played, with the center totaling 12 goals and 21 assists.

Pittsburgh had won four in a row and 12 of 13 against the former Atlanta Thrashers before losing 2-1 without Malkin and Crosby on Oct. 17, 2011 - the Jets' first home victory in Winnipeg. Since then, the Penguins have outscored them 20-10 to win the last three meetings.

Marc-Andre Fleury, whose five goals allowed Wednesday matched his worst from all of last season, is 12-2-0 with a 2.06 goals-against average in his last 14 meetings with the Jets franchise.

Though the Jets (1-1-1) went 23-13-5 at home in 2011-12, they have lost five straight in Winnipeg and given up at least four goals in each. They opened this season with a 4-1 defeat to Ottawa on Saturday in their only home game this year.

The Jets followed that defeat with a 2-1 shootout loss at Boston on Tuesday but rebounded with a 4-2 win at Washington on Wednesday. Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler each had a goal and an assist while Ondrej Pavelec made 32 saves as the Jets overcame a 1-0 deficit by scoring four straight.

"If you play a simple game and everyone buys into it, you can have success," said Wheeler, who failed to register a point in the first two games before being placed on a line with Kane and veteran Olli Jokinen.

Pavelec has lost 10 of 11 starts versus Pittsburgh, with the lone win coming in the teams' first meeting last season. He went on to lose the next three, posting a 6.68 GAA.

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