Penguins overcome loss of Schultz, Maatta to injury
February 17, 2017 12:16 AM
Without Olli Maatta and Justin Schultz, Trevor Daley played 25:22, Brian Dumoulin saw 23:03, Ian Cole 25:48 and Kris Letang, above, 31:07. They combined for 11 of the Penguins' 20 blocked shots.
By Jason Mackey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Penguins erased a third period deficit Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets, winning 4-3 in overtime, and they did it down a pair of defensemen for more than half the game.
Olli Maatta and Justin Schultz played just 7:38 and 8:40, respectively, as they were injured in the second period on hits from center Adam Lowry and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan did not have any updates afterward, but everybody who spoke heaped praised on the effort turned in by those Penguins defensemen who finished the game.
“Wasn’t easy for us going down a couple D halfway through the game,” said Sidney Crosby, who notched his 1,000th NHL point at 6:28 of the first period and scored the game-winner at 4:38 of overtime.
“That’s a lot of time to have to play two men down like that.”
“The four guys that played the remainder of the game did a really good job under difficult circumstances,” Sullivan added.
The Penguins even had to kill a penalty with three defensemen when Trevor Daley was called for holding at 12:38 of the second period.
“I thought under the circumstances they did a pretty solid job,” Sullivan said.
It looked like a head or neck for Schultz, while Maatta’s hand could be the part of his body in question.
Schultz finished his last shift at 4:24 of the second period, Maatta a little later at 9:59.
Sullivan said the Penguins hoped to know more Friday. They won’t hold a morning skate in Columbus, so look for more information around 5 p.m., the time of Sullivan’s pregame availability.
If the Penguins do summon a defenseman, Steve Oleksy could be a viable candidate given the physical history of the Blue Jackets series. Also given what Schultz gives them on the power play, David Warsofsky could be added to the mix.
Without Maatta and Schultz, Daley played 25:22, Brian Dumoulin saw 23:03, Ian Cole 25:48 and Kris Letang 31:07. They combined for 11 of the Penguins' 20 blocked shots.
Although he was on the ice for several scoring chances, Letang contributed three assists while tallying three hits and four blocked shots, which tied Cole for the team-lead.
It looked dire for awhile, as Winnipeg rattled off three guys and the Penguins looked gas. But Phil Kessel started the comeback with a power play goal at 13:55 of the third period, and Crosby ended it in overtime.
“It was crazy,” Letang said. “Hell of a game. I don’t think it should have turned that way. Going to four D, trying to battle through it and get us going on the power play and in overtime, it was the perfect end for Sid’s 1,000 points.”
Nuggets and numbers
• Thursday marked the 118th three-point game of Crosby's career. He also notched his team-record 23rd overtime point (10 goals). Mario Lemieux had 22.
• Marc-Andre Fleury made a season-high 44 saves to notch his 15th win.
• The Penguins are the only NHL team without a regulation loss since the All-Star break They're 10-2-2 in their last 14 games.
• Letang played in his 600th game. He's the third Penguins defenseman to hit the 600-game mark.
• Kessel extended his season-long scoring streak to four games with his goal.
• Chris Kunitz, who scored in the first, to get Crosby his 1,000th point, got his ninth goal of the season and now has five goals and three assists in the last 13 home games.
Jason Mackey: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @JMackeyPG.
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