PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 20: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins handles the puck 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)
After the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres both collected road wins of their own last night, the Jets were looking to - nay - had to match their Eastern Conference counterparts with a strong performance tonight.
What ensued was the equivalent of having to watch Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey on a continual loop for the rest of eternity.
To put it lightly, it was ugly.
The first few minutes of the game would be a precursor for the disaster that would later unfold inside the Consol Energy Centrer as only two minutes into the game, the Jets found themselves trailing after a goal by Tyler Kennedy made it 1-0 Penguins.
To their credit, the Jets did not let the slow start affect them. Only a minute later, Jim Slater had tied the game up on a goal that would stand after being reviewed by the NHL's Toronto office for a distinct kicking motion.
After some deft puck movement, Bryan Little found himself unmarked in the slot and netted his 20th goal of the season with a wicked wrister that eluded the blocker of Tiffany Amber... errr.. Brad Theissen, giving the road club a 2-1 lead, a joy that, for Jets fans, would be short-lived.The rest of the game can best be summarized as the Evgeni Malkin (2G 3A), Sidney Crosby (4A) and James Neal (3G, 1A) exerting their dominance of the Winnipeg Jets.
Over the next forty minutes of hockey, the trio would register a combined twelve (!) points on top of the assist the Crosby had already tallied on the first goal of the game.
The similarities between tonight's blowout loss and the one suffered the last time these two teams met are staggering. Once again, Pittsburgh used the second and third periods to distance themselves from the Jets, scoring six goals in the final two frames, on their way to marking eight on the night.
The Jets benevolence toward the Penguins has, in the process, set a new franchise record for the Winnipeg based team. For the first time ever, Winnipeg allowed eight goals in two consecutive games to an opponent.
The only true difference between the two shellackings is that at least tonight Pittsburgh did it with Sidney Crosby in their line-up as he played in his first home game since December 5, 2011 due to reoccurring concussion symptoms.
Much to their detriment - and as acquiescently displayed tonight as it was on February 11 - the Jets thought they could run neck-and-neck offensively with their Pennsylvanian opponent, despite being the Zippy Chippy to the Penguins Secretariat.
What ended up transpiring was a result that even made a loathsome homer like Paul Steigerwald blush, though it would be as a result of not being able to conceal his own excitement.
To talk any further on the matter just seems redundant. Pittsburgh was the better team and they showed it with relative ease as indicated by the scoreboard.
Winnipeg is now off until Friday when they will face the Washington Capitals in a game that very well could define their season, as post-season play - at this juncture - appears to be a mirage.
Right now, the focus shouldn't even be on the daunting task ahead of them as the Jets attempt to reclaim eight in the East. It should be about trying to avoid fading into the obscure twilight of the season as meekly as they did last year.
Play with pride. Let the rest sort itself out.
First Period: 02:04 Pittsburgh ES Goal, Tyler Kennedy (7) (Sidney Crosby, Matt Cooke); 03:35 Winnipeg ES Goal, Jim Slater (10) (Tanner Glass, Spencer Machacek); 12:51 Winnipeg PP Goal, Bryan Little (20) (Andrew Ladd, Tobias Enstrom); 16:44 Pittsburgh PP Goal, James Neal (33) (Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby)
Second Period: 01:15 Pittsburgh ES Goal, James Neal (34) (Evgeni Malkin); 03:54 Winnipeg ES Goal, Bryan Little (21) (Andrew Ladd, Tobias Enstrom); 06:55 Pittsburgh ES Goal, Tyler Kennedy (8) (Sidney Crosby, Matt Cooke); 11:31 Pittsburgh ES Goal, Evgeni Malkin (42) (Sidney Crosby, Paul Martin); 14:39 Winnipeg ES Goal, Tim Stapleton (9) (Ben Maxwell, Spencer Machacek), 17:03 Pittsburgh ES Goal, James Neal (35) (Evgeni Malkin, Brooks Orpik)
Shots: Winnipeg 30, Pittsburgh 35.
Three Stars: 1. James Neal 2. Evgeni Malkin 3. Sidney Crosby
Ed. Note: Due to the length of tonight's recap, there will be no Thoughts from the Tarmac. Seriously, there was nothing positive to say anyways, aside from a solemn congratulations to Bryan Little for registering a quiet 20 goals on the season. Look for TFTT to return in our next edition. We apologize to all those who enjoy this feature.