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Penguins ride Vokoun's 50th shutout to 14th straight win

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH - Tomas Vokoun reached a significant milestone on Thursday night, but he couldn't stop gushing about the play of his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates.

Vokoun subbed in goal for injured Marc-Andre Fleury (sore neck) and posted the 50th shutout of his 15-year career and second this season in leading the Penguins to their 14th win in a row, 4-0 over the Winnipeg Jets at the Consol Energy Center.

"I'm proud to have been able to play in the league this long against such great competition and I never would have dreamed about that when I was a 20-year-old kid breaking into the league," Vokoun said. "The best part about it, though, is we played such a great game.

"That might have been one of most complete games I've ever been a part of in all the years I've been playing in the NHL. We played great on both ends of the ice."

Vokoun stopped 20 shots in blanking the Jets (18-15-2), who lead the Southeast Division, and became the 26th goalie in NHL history to have 50 shutouts

The Penguins (27-8-0) were overwhelming on both ends of the ice. and Vokoun stonewalled Winnipeg on the few good scoring chances it had. Pittsburgh had 43 shots on goal.

"Winnipeg is a very good team," Vokoun said. "You wouldn't think so if we watched tonight's game and that's because we played so well."

Pascual Dupuis scored two goals, Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin added one, and NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby had two assists for the Eastern Conference-leading Penguins (27-8-0)

Malkin, last season's Hart Trophy winner, was activated from injured reserve before the game after missing nine games with a shoulder injury. Crosby pushed his point total to 56 and ran his point streak to six straight games, with three goals and six assists in that span.

Pittsburgh continued its stunning defensive turnaround. The Penguins have given up just nine goals in the last 10 games after allowing 27 goals in the previous six games.

Pittsburgh killed a Winnipeg two-man advantage earlier in the third period to help preserve shutout.

"That was the best moment of the game for me," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "Our guys were out there sacrificing their bodies by going down to block shots with a 4-0 lead. That says something about our players."

The Penguins keep adding players, too, as they made their third trade in the five days in the wee hours of Thursday morning when they acquired future Hall of Fame center Jarome Iginla from the Calgary Flames for their first-round draft pick and two college prospects.

Pittsburgh got right winger Brenden Morrow from the Dallas Stars on Sunday and defenseman Douglas Murray from the San Jose Sharks on Monday. Murray made his Penguins' debut Thursday.

"There are some special guys in this room," Murray said. "It's exciting to be a part of this."

The Penguins made all three trades without sacrificing anyone off their NHL roster, a clear sign they are preparing to make a run at their first Stanley Cup title since 2009.

"I'm pretty cognizant of the fact, this team on paper, that's a pretty good team on paper," Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero said.

Pittsburgh was a pretty good team on the ice against the Jets as it got within three games of matching the NHL record for longest winning streak. The Penguins set that mark in 1993 and have the NHL's first 14-game winning streak since the New Jersey Devils in 2001.

The Penguins took a 2-0 lead with goals by Kunitz and Malkin late in the first period.

Kunitz converted a no-look backhanded pass from Crosby with a wrist shot at 15:03 for his 20th goal of the season. With 1:28 left, Malkin scored tipped in a pass from James Neal from just outside the left crease.

Dupuis then scored twice in the second period to help push the Penguins' lead to 4-0, blasting a snap shot from the slot at 4:12 on a pass from Kunitz on an odd-man rush and then taking a long pass from Vokoun and scoring short-handed on a wrist shot from the right circle with 1:23 remaining. Dupuis has 17 goals.

The Winnipeg franchise, previously the Atlanta Thrashers, has not won in its last 12 trips to Pittsburgh, going 0-10-2.

NOTES: Iginla has immigration matters to take care of before he can report to the Penguins, but they are hopeful he might be able to play Saturday against the New York Islanders. ... Both teams started their backup goaltenders. Pittsburgh went with Vokoun after Fleury left Tuesday night's win over Montreal at the end of the second period when he was knocked down by teammate Tyler Kennedy, who was pushed by Canadiens captain Brian Gionta. Fleury underwent concussion tests Wednesday that were negative. Al Montoya started for Winnipeg and made 39 saves. Ondrej Pavelec had started the previous 11 games. ... Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was placed on injured reserve with a broken toe and is expected to be out for at least a week after being injured Tuesday. He had sat out the previous three games with a lower body injury. ... Pittsburgh reassigned right winger Beau Bennett to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League to make room on the roster for Malkin. Bennett had two goals and seven assists in 19 games. ... Jets defensemen Mark Stuart (undisclosed injury), Arturs Kulda and Paul Postma were scratched. ... Fleury was scratched for the Penguins along with center Dustin Jeffrey and defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Deryk Engelland.

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