Pens Derail Jets 4-2; Clinch Metropolitan Division


Apr 3, 2014; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Pittsburgh Penguins forward Beau Bennett (19) celebrates with forward Sidney Crosby (87) after scoring a goal during the first period against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins have won the Metropolitan Division.

In beating the Winnipeg Jets 4-2 Thursday night, Pittsburgh claimed the Metro, and are on their way to solidifying the second-seed for the 2014 NHL Playoffs.

The victory also gave head coach Dan Bylsma his 250th career win, and he became the fastest in NHL history to achieve this milestone – per the Pens’ Twitter handle.

And despite the Pens’ four tallies, this really was a defensive showcasing by both teams.

Totaling just 30 shots combined, Pens’ netminder Marc-Andre Fleury saw only 15 shots come his way, and Pittsburgh fired just 21 on Jets’ goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. Which tells you that neither goaltender was particularly sharp as well.

Making his return after 18-straight missed outings, defenseman Paul Martin seemed as though he never left.

Potting his third goal of the season via the power play, Martin’s tally with 12:28 left in the third period proved to be the game-winner, and he logged the most ice-time of any Pens’ player (23:46) – excluding Fleury, of course.

Welcome back Mr. Martin.

Rewinding back to the first period, Pittsburgh received a goal from forward Beau Bennett with 7:16 left, off a beautiful feed from captain Sidney Crosby – who picked up his 101st point in the process. Bennett, who was making his return to the Pens’ top-line, found himself wide-open, and as a result, buried his third goal of the season, and his second since being reinserted.

In the four games Bennett’s been back, he’s garnered three points (2G, 1A), which is tied for as many as he had collected in the 12 games before he went down with a long-term ailment. Expect to see Bennett’s slot concreted on the Pens’ top-line moving towards the postseason.

However, Winnipeg quickly knotted the game up at one just 2:52-minutes into the second, when forward Olli Jokinen notched his 17th goal of the season. And as the second period went along, both teams exchanged a pair of goals – one by forward Craig Adams, and another by forward Zach Redmond.

That’s where we pickup Martin’s game-winner.

Receiving a pass from forward James Neal in the slot, Martin slammed home a one-time shot on one knee to record his first point since Jan. 22, and his first goal since Nov. 20.

Then, with 3:36 left in the tilt, forward Brian Gibbons potted his fifth goal of the season, and his first in 18 games. And this was just icing on the cake, as Gibbons’ tally served as the dagger for Winnipeg’s chances.

Pittsburgh is starting to get healthy, and from my standpoint, I couldn’t be more relieved. Although there’s still a few players that have yet to return – Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Joe Vitale, Tomas Vokoun – it’s comforting to see everything coming to full circle for Pittsburgh.

There next matchup will be tougher, but we’ll see if they can keep this momentum chugging along.

Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Wild can be seen on the ROOT Network, and is set to start at 8 p.m.