Hellebuyck makes 30 saves to lift Jets over Penguins 1-0
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Connor Hellebuyck sounded more relieved than excited about his first shutout, even if it was only his ninth career NHL game.
The rookie goalie made 30 saves and Bryan Little scored on a penalty shot in the first period to help the Winnipeg Jets beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 1-0 on Sunday night.
The shutout was the first for Winnipeg this season and ended a two-game skid. Hellebuyck downplayed blanking a team with stars like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel.
''I think every team's good in this league and I'm just really excited I finally got this milestone,'' Hellebuyck said.
Jets coach Paul Maurice smiled at his 22-year-old goalie's use of the word ''finally.''
''He's been waiting for weeks,'' Maurice said.
Hellebuyck was called up from the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose to join goalie Michael Hutchinson after starter Ondrej Pavelec suffered a knee injury Nov. 21. Pavelec is expected to be out until at least late January.
With just under a minute left in the game, Tyler Myers dove in Hellebuyck's crease to stop shots from Chris Kunitz and Nick Bonino with his face. Myers wasn't hurt on the play.
''They got the puck to the net and, fortunately, I was able to get a face on it,'' Myers said.
''I definitely have been wanting this milestone to come because it means I essentially played a perfect game,'' Hellebuyck said. ''And tonight, with the help of Tyler Myers, I think finally I achieved it.''
The loss ended Pittsburgh's two-game winning streak. Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff made 27 saves.
Little's penalty shot was the first of his career and was awarded after he was pulled down on the way to the net by defenseman Ben Lovejoy with 5:14 left. He put his shot over Zatkoff's glove into the upper corner.
''I didn't know a lot about this goalie, but I knew I was going to shoot glove side pretty much before I went,'' Little said. ''I was either going to go low or high, but I saw definitely more up around his glove was open than low.''
''Credit him, he made a great shot,'' Zatkoff said. ''He made a little move and shot it right when I dropped my glove a little bit.''
Pittsburgh outshot the Jets 23-16 during the first two periods. The Penguins had won their last two games, including 3-1 the night before in Minnesota.
Crosby said the back-to-back action was no excuse.
''We had a good (Christmas) break,'' he said. ''We should be well-rested. They jumped on us early and we got on our heels a bit. A better start definitely would have helped us.''
Zatkoff made a key save near the midway point of the third when Jets forward Drew Stafford had an open net, but his low shot was stopped by the stick of the sprawled netminder.
Jets coach Paul Maurice juggled three lines because of the absence of center Mark Scheifele, out with a concussion.
Andrew Ladd was replaced by Stafford on the top line with Little and right-winger Blake Wheeler.
Ladd skated with Scheifele's replacement, center Adam Lowry, and Alexander Burmistrov.
Mathieu Perreault went back to a center slot between Nikolaj Ehlers and Chris Thorburn.
Notes: The Jets put Scheifele on injured reserve Sunday for at least seven days because of a concussion he suffered in a collision with Andrew Ladd at practice Saturday. Lowry was called up from the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose. ... The Penguins sat defenseman Kris Letang for precautionary reasons after he was hit in the head in a win Saturday night over Minnesota. ... Winnipeg hosts Detroit on Tuesday night, while Pittsburgh returns home to play Toronto on Wednesday night.