The Penguins’ perfect march through March is turning into a flat-out sprint.
And the latest addition to their star-studded lineup isn’t even due in town until the weekend.
The streaking Penguins raced past the Winnipeg Jets 4-0 on Thursday night for their 14th straight win. At the rate Sidney Crosby and company are going, the NHL record of 17 consecutive victories set by Pittsburgh 20 years ago is well within reach.
Not that Crosby is putting much stock in his team’s remarkable run. Honest.
“It’s not something we really talk about,” said Crosby, who had two assists to push his point total to a league-leading 56. “We know that the streak is nice but at the end of the day it doesn’t really mean anything. I think it’s a result of our hard work, but I don’t think anyone is going to remember that come playoff time.”
Pascal Dupuis scored twice for Pittsburgh and Evgeni Malkin celebrated his return to the lineup with his first goal in more than three weeks. Chris Kunitz added a goal and an assist as the Penguins capped a giddy 24 hours by dominating the Southeast Division leaders.
And to think newly acquired Jarome Iginla is still in Canada working through immigration issues. The Penguins acquired the six-time All-Star forward late Wednesday night, an audacious move that thrust them from Stanley Cup contender to favorite.
Pittsburgh hardly played like the pressure — of what is now the third-longest winning streak in NHL history — is a burden.
“We made it tough on them,” Crosby said. “The fact we got to them early probably helped us a little bit but we kept our foot on the gas the entire game.”
Tomas Vokoun stopped 20 shots and recorded a rare assist as the Penguins posted consecutive shutouts for only the second time in franchise history. Vokoun also became the 26th goaltender in NHL history with 50 shutouts.
Al Montoya, making just his fourth start of the season, made 39 saves for Winnipeg but the Jets were no match for the NHL’s hottest team.
The league record for consecutive wins was set by the Mario Lemieux-led Penguins in 1992-93, and appears to be in serious jeopardy, though Lemieux — who now co-owns the franchise — hardly appears to mind.