Loaded Pens aim for 14th straight win in home test vs. Jets

10:11 AM, Mar 28, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - A Pittsburgh Penguins team that has been busy acquiring talent lately will put a 13-game winning streak on the line when they host the Winnipeg Jets in Thursday's clash at CONSOL Energy Center.

Pittsburgh's most recent addition came overnight on Wednesday, as general manager Ray Shero acquired star winger Jarome Iginla from Calgary for forward prospects Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski and the Penguins' 2013 first-round draft pick.

Iginla joins forward Brenden Morrow and defenseman Douglas Murray as the newest members of a loaded Pittsburgh club that already includes the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal.

Morrow made his Penguins debut in Tuesday's win against Montreal after being acquired in a trade from Dallas over the weekend. Pittsburgh also dealt for San Jose defender Douglas Murray on Monday and he is likely to make his debut versus the Jets.

The 35-year-old Iginla, meanwhile, leaves the Flames as their all-time leader in goals (525), points (1,095) and total games (1,219), while placing second in assists (570) after spending all of his 16-plus NHL seasons in southern Alberta.

"I talked to (Iginla) after the fact," Shero told the Penguins' official website. "He agreed to waive (his no-trade clause) and come to Pittsburgh. It was a big change after 16 years in Calgary so I'm sure it will be quite emotional. He said he was excited to come to Pittsburgh."

Iginla has yet to arrive in Pittsburgh and won't play for his new team until at least Saturday's home test against the New York Islanders.

Without Iginla on Thursday, the upgraded Penguins will try to extend their 15- point lead for first in the Atlantic Division as well as a 10-game home winning streak. Pittsburgh is also five points ahead of Montreal for the seed in the East.

The Penguins have won by a single goal nine times during their current NHL- long 13-game winning streak, but their last few home outings versus Winnipeg haven't been as close. Pittsburgh will try to post its 12th straight home victory over the Jets franchise on Thursday.

Winnipeg hasn't won in the Steel City since Dec. 27, 2006. The Penguins have outscored the Jets 22-12 in the past three at home. Though the clubs split a pair of meetings in Winnipeg earlier this season, the Pens have won eight of 10 and 16 of the last 19 battles overall.

Four of the Pens' last five games have been decided by just a single goal, including the first two of a five-game homestand. Pittsburgh began the residency with a 2-1 overtime victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday before outlasting the Canadiens 1-0 on Tuesday.

Crosby had the game's only goal, taking an outlet pass from Chris Kunitz before firing home his 15th marker of the season with 6:41 to play in the second period. Brooks Orpik also had an assist.

"I think everyone's bought into what we're doing here," said Orpik. "It starts right from Sid and guys who are used to getting a lot of points. They are putting team goals way ahead of individual goals. I think we realize what our ultimate goal is here, and everyone has bought into that."

What Pittsburgh now owns is the second-longest winning streak in team history, topped by only a 17-game run during the 1992-93 season. Also, its 13-0 March so far has set a new franchise mark for the most wins in a single month.

Also impressive is that the last nine wins for the Penguins have come without Malkin, who remains day-to-day with a shoulder injury and the reigning Hart Trophy winner could return tonight.

However, defenseman Kris Letang landed back on injured reserve Tuesday due to a lower body injury reported to be a broken toe suffered versus the Habs. Letang had just returned from a three-game absence caused by a different lower body ailment.

Pittsburgh has allowed just nine goals over its last nine games, but No. 1 goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury did exit Tuesday's game early after a collision with teammate Tyler Kennedy and Montreal's Brian Gionta late in the second period. He finished the frame, but was replaced by Tomas Vokoun to start the third.

Fleury made 25 saves and Vokoun stopped all 12 he saw in relief. Fleury was still being evaluated on Wednesday, but could serve as the backup tonight. Head coach Dan Bylsma said that Vokoun was already the scheduled starter for this game.

The Jets bring a two-game winning streak into tonight's meeting and increased their lead over the Hurricanes for first place in the Southeast Division to six points with Tuesday's 4-2 victory at Carolina. Winnipeg has played three fewer games than the 'Canes.

Evander Kane assisted on Winnipeg's first three goals before being credited with a third-period tally after Carolina defenseman Jamie McBain accidentally fanned a clearing attempt into his own net.

Olli Jokinen, Tobias Enstrom and Nik Antropov each scored once for the Jets, who have won eight of 12, while Ondrej Pavelec made 38 saves.

"We knew the implications going in," Kane said. "It was a big game for both teams, but it's not going to be the last one, that's for sure."

The Jets host the Hurricanes on Saturday.

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