Penguins offense keeps rolling in rout of Jets
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — It was bound to end. Surely, there was no way it could be sustained.
At some point, the Penguins had to face the harsh reality.
They could not expect Sidney Crosby to continually buoy their offense while fellow superstar Evgeni Malkin and skilled contributors such as Alex Galchenyuk and Bryan Rust were sidelined.
And Sunday, for the first time in more than a week, Crosby failed to score.
Thankfully, they could rely on Zach Aston-Reese.
And Sam Lafferty, twice.
Also, Jake Guentzel. Twice.
The three forwards each scored a pair of goals and led the surging Penguins to a 7-2 rout of the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place. It was the Penguins’ third consecutive victory.
Coming off a 7-4 road win against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, the Penguins have displayed their depth as incumbent players and reinforcements from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton have thrived.
For Aston-Reese, he was only five days removed from the Jets’ 4-1 win at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday in which an ugly turnover by him led to the Jets’ winning goal.
His outburst Sunday helped his confidence.
“It feels pretty good,” said Aston-Reese, who scored his first two goals of the season. “Especially against this team after what happened last game, giving them an easy goal and not being able to respond. Just to be able to get those (goals) against this team feels good.”
The Penguins felt pretty good most of the night.
After Jets forward Mathieu Perreault opened the scoring 1:47 into regulation against goaltender Tristan Jarry, making his season debut, the Penguins’ responded with Aston-Reese’s first goal off a rebound scramble at 4:09 of the first.
At 7:50 of the second, Guentzel scored on a power-play. Then Lafferty, a Hollidaysburg native, scored his second career goal — one night after recording his first — at 8:31.
The Jets made it 3-2 game on a power-play goal by forward Mark Scheifele at 10:00.
After that, it was all Penguins.
Forward Dominik Simon scored his first goal of the season at 16:28 on a goalmouth scramble.
Lafferty added his second of the contest at 9:13 of the third period by lifting a wrister from the left circle that deflected off a skate. Guentzel fired a wrister off a perfect pass by Letang at 11:40.
Aston-Reese completed his retribution late with a short-handed breakaway goal at 14:46.
“It was pretty nice, especially because I told (Letang) I was going to hold up for the draw,” Aston-Reese said of his second score. “He was like, ‘No, just go.’ And I just got a lucky bounce.
“Post and in. Pretty lucky.”
He was much more fortunate and successful than he was at home Tuesday.
“I’m thrilled for (Aston-Reese),” coach Mike Sullivan said. “He had a great game tonight. He’s a good player, and he doesn’t always end up on the scoresheet but he does a lot of the thankless jobs. He’s a good penalty killer. He’s good on the wall. We play him a lot, his line against our opponent’s top players. If we don’t use Sid’s line, a lot of times, the line that he’s on is the next line that plays against the other team’s top players, and he does a great job.
“He’s another guy that’s getting a better understanding of what his role is and what his niche is and how he can excel in that role for this team in particular. But I’m thrilled for him that he scores a couple of goals tonight. For a guy like that to get rewarded on the scoresheet for all the effort and the sacrifice that he puts in, we couldn’t be happier for him.”
Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .