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Sidney Crosby leads improving Penguins vs. Jets

Nov 15, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) looks on before a face-off against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins have recorded at least one point in four of their last five contests to put their recent seven-game winless skid in their rear-view mirror.

The Penguins will look to continue their ascent on Saturday when they make the second stop of their three-game road trip against the high-flying Winnipeg Jets.

Superstar captain Sidney Crosby set the pace early Thursday by scoring the game’s opening goal for the 100th time in his illustrious career, tying Hall of Fame member Mario Lemieux for the most in franchise history.

Crosby finished with two goals and two assists and linemate Jake Guentzel added one and two, respectively, in Pittsburgh’s 6-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild in Saint Paul, Minn.

The Penguins, who improved to 3-1-1 in their past five games, ended a 1-for-13 stretch on the power play by scoring twice with the man advantage on Thursday.

“I thought we controlled the play and obviously special teams were big for most of the night,” said Crosby, who is tied with Guentzel for the team lead in goals (nine).

“We’ve had our struggles there, and we have to be difference makers on the power play and (Thursday) it was the difference maker for the game.”

Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan looked past some of the team’s blemishes to focus on the primary goal.

“Well, it’s important that we got the win. I think that’s the most important thing,” Sullivan said. “I think there was a lot to like about the game. We still have some lapses in the game where we hurt ourselves, so to speak. We got to continue to work at getting better at those circumstances.

“… Obviously, when you when you score that many goals, it helps your chances. But I thought the 5-on-3 goal in the second period was a huge goal for our team. Just a huge momentum boost for us. Those guys have been working hard at it. I was happy for them.”

Kyle Connor had every reason to be happy on Thursday after completing his third career NHL hat trick with 54 seconds remaining in the third period of Winnipeg’s 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. The Jets are 8-1-1 in their past 10 games overall and 6-1-0 at home this season.

Connor entered the game with just two goals on the season after erupting for a career-high 47 in 2021-22.

“It was just a matter of time,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “(Connor) had some really good looks early that didn’t go in. I think that first one gave him a big boost, and you could see all of a sudden the stride picked up, the enthusiasm picked up a lot. A little bit of a weight off his shoulders.”

Connor has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his past six games while linemate Mark Scheifele has eight (four goals, four assists) in that same stretch.

Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey has eight points (one goal, seven assists) on his six-game point streak.

Winnipeg likely will need to solve Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry, who has turned aside 84 of 89 shots to win all three of his career starts against the club.

–Field Level Media