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Pens host Jets, aim for 12th straight home win
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins will try to continue their dominant play on home ice when they welcome the Winnipeg Jets for Sunday's clash at CONSOL Energy Center.
The Penguins have won 11 straight in the Steel City, pushing their home record this season to 18-3-0.
Pittsburgh, which suffered its last loss as the host on Nov. 13 against Philadelphia, can match a club record for a home winning streak with another victory today against the Jets. The mark of 12 straight home wins was set from Feb. 22-March 30 of last season.
The Pens, who have won three of four and 10 of their last 12 games overall, notched a 5-2 home win Friday night against the New York Rangers, as Chris Kunitz and Jussi Jokinen each scored twice to fuel the rout.
Sidney Crosby added a goal and two helpers for the Penguins. Brian Gibbons notched assists on both Jokinen scores, while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 33 shots.
Jokinen's two-score night halted a 14-game goal drought and gives him 11 markers on the season. The Finnish forward last scored on Nov. 30 against Florida.
"You can't score every game and when you hit kind of a little bit of a slump, you just try to do all those little things right," said Jokinen. "It's always been like that a little bit for me when I play center. It's a little more freedom there and some more chances. It felt good to get a couple tonight."
Both star forward Evgeni Malkin and top defenseman Kris Letang could make their returns for the Penguins on Sunday. Malkin has missed the last nine games with a lower-body injury, while Letang has sat out 10 in a row due to an elbow injury that required minor surgery.
Malkin has 41 points (9 goals, 32 assists) in 32 games this season, while Letang has notched six goals and five assists in just 24 games on the blue line. Both players are considered questionable for Sunday.
The Jets have not fared well in Pittsburgh over the years, and that could make halting the Pens' home streak a tough task. The Winnipeg franchise, which prior to the 2011-12 season was known as the Atlanta Thrashers, have lost 12 straight in the Steel City, dating back to a 4-2 win by the Thrashers on Dec. 27, 2006.
Pittsburgh also has claimed two straight, five of six and nine of the last 11 overall meetings in this series.
The Jets have lost two straight in regulation to begin January, following a three-game winning streak to end the 2013 calendar year. Winnipeg played Saturday afternoon in Boston and was handed a 4-1 loss as Torey Krug scored twice and added an assist to help the Bruins notch the comfortable victory at TD Garden.
Dustin Byfuglien scored the lone goal for Winnipeg, while Ondrej Pavelec turned aside 25 shots in defeat.
Winnipeg fell to 9-12-1 as the visiting team this season and will try to salvage a win when it closes a three-game road trip this afternoon.
01/05 10:41:54 ET