Off Five-Goal Game, Laine Could be Problem for Pens

Winnipeg sniper leading NHL with 19 goals

Josh Rowntree
November 26, 2018 - 7:31 pm
Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine (29) celebrates his goal in the first period against Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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On Saturday, Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine had a game for the ages, scoring five goals in an 8-4 win over St. Louis. 

Up next, for Laine, is a meeting in Winnipeg against a Penguins team that appears to be righting the ship after losing nine of ten games. 

“It’s pretty incredible,” Crosby said following Monday’s practice. “I think he had five shots on net, so that’s even more incredible. He’s a goal-scorer. He’s shown that since he’s gotten into the League. But it’s pretty amazing what he’s able to do.”

Laine broke onto the scene as a rookie in 2016-17, scoring 36 goals. A year ago, he put up 44, good for second-best in the NHL. Currently, he is on a torrid pace, scoring 19 goals in 22 games, the best mark in the League.

“I think, like any young player, you just gain confidence every year,” Crosby said. “He’s well aware of the shot he has. He uses it and he’s got great hands. But his shot sticks out the most.”

Laine has helped Winnipeg to an average of 3.36 goals per game, tied with Pittsburgh for the 8th best mark in the League. 

“We’re going to play a guy that’s scored five goals,” defenseman Kris Letang said. “Obviously we’re going to pay big attention to him. But they still have a lot of weapons. They’re a good hockey team. 

“They’re a contender every year. So we’re going to have to play a good, solid road game with a defensive conscious.”

Winnipeg has more than Laine, for sure. In fact, the Finnish sniper is fourth on the team in points. Winger Blake Wheeler leads the team with 27 points, including 23 assists. Forwards Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor each have 24 points. But Laine has the powerful shot that can swing a game.

“I can tell you that he has a bomb of a shot,” Letang said. “If you’re aware of that, you have to try to reduce his time and space.”

The Jets have had a tendency to go play and up-and-down game this season. Over its last four games, Winnipeg has been involved in three game with at least nine total goals. 

“Obviously it’s not ideal to allow five or six goals a game and try to win games like this,” Letang added. “But if they’re played like that, you just have to adjust and find a way to win. That’s what good teams do.”