Winnipeg Jets Unable to Keep Pace with High-Scoring Pittsburgh Penguins

Anthony CapocciContributor IMarch 20, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 20:  James Neal #18 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his first period power play goal with teammaes against the Winnipeg Jets during the game at Consol Energy Center on March 20, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Winnipeg Jets had a tall order in front of them going into Tuesday night’s game as they faced, arguably, the best team in hockey.

While the Jets continue to chase a playoff spot, the Pittsburgh Penguins continue to chase something of their own. With the win for the Penguins, they move within one-point of the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers.

For the Jets, the loss keeps them within four points of the eighth place Washington Capitals with only nine games remaining.

The Jets played a solid first period and had a 2-1 lead at one point early in the game.  However, the lead didn’t last too long as James Neal scored to tie it at two just before the end of the first period.

Neal carried his scoring touch into the second period where he notched two more goals for his second career hat trick.

The Penguins continue to be a tough task for the Jets this season as there were no answers for Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and the rest of the Penguins players.

It was a dominating performance for both of the Penguins’ superstars. Malkin finished the game with an astounding five-point effort while Crosby had four assists.

It was a nightmare in net for Ondrej Pavelec who was pulled midway through the second period after allowing five goals.

Pavelec has not been good against the Penguins thus far in his young career, and with little help from the defense, Pavelec clearly wasn't on his game.

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 20:  Bryan Little #18 of the Winnipeg Jets shoots and scores past Brad Thiessen #39 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on March 20, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty I
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Chris Mason played in relief of Pavelec but wasn’t too sharp either.

The Jets scored four times on backup netminder Brad Thiessen, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep them in the game.

Most notably for the Jets was forward Bryan Little who scored twice and now has 21 goals on the season.

The Jets were unable to hang with the powerhouse Penguins and lost by a decisive 8-4 final score.

ANALYSIS: The Jets weren't able to pull off what would have been a huge upset in Pittsburgh. The Penguins demonstrated why they are in a league of their own with the talent they have.

The Jets have just nine games remaining this season, and sit four points back of the Capitals for the final playoff spot.

Tonight's game was the first of seven road games on the Jets remaining schedule.

The Jets road woes are well documented at this point so it will take more than a miracle for them to overcome the Capitals this late in the season.

A game in Washington this Friday could put the Jets away for good if they fail to grab two points.