Blake Wheeler

Jets coach on Penguins’ Sestito: ‘They didn’t call him up to dangle’

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However you feel about the way the hit on Toby Enstrom played out – many believe the Jets defenseman put himself in a vulnerable position – it’s clear that the Penguins recalled Tom Sestito because they anticipated a physical game on Wednesday.

Now, the maliciousness of such intents? That’s where things get fuzzy and controversial, prompting Jets head coach Paul Maurice to possibly get himself in a little trouble.

Maurice noted that there was “no cost” to the Penguins to call up Sestito, a player who hadn’t appeared in the NHL since November. When asked if he believes that Sestito was recalled to do something, Maurice responded “They didn’t call him up to dangle.”

(Burn.)

After that zinger, he went back into dry coach mode when asked if Sestito should be suspended, merely saying that he’s sure the NHL has a “plan” about him.

Maurice noted that Enstrom has been hospitalized out of fear of facial fractures, noting that the Jets lost a “good defenseman” on Wednesday.

Here’s full footage of Maurice’s comments:

The Penguins have bad injury news of their own as Patric Hornqvist is reportedly suffering from a concussion.

For what it’s worth, the Jets weren’t negative toward the Penguins in every regard, as Blake Wheeler said he respected that Evgeni Malkin “answered the bell” for a controversial hit by engaging in their brief fight.

Malkin, Bonino help Penguins hand Jets a nasty loss

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Blake Wheeler might have won the fight, but Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins ultimately got the best of the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday.

The physicality (sometimes outright dirty play) seemed to really focus Malkin, who scored two goals and one assist – actually getting a “Gordie Howe hat trick” – as the Penguins beat the Jets 7-4.

Nick Bonino might have had the best night of all, generating a hat trick. It’s just the second of the underrated forward’s career:

The Jets actually carried a 3-2 lead into the second period, when Pittsburgh rattled off four goals, with three coming on the power play. It was a rough night for Connor Hellebuyck, who allowed five goals on 15 shots before giving way to Michael Hutchinson.

This win strengthens Pittsburgh’s grip on the third spot in the Metro, also putting them in a virtual tie with Columbus for second place (the Blue Jackets hold tiebreaker advantages).

The Jets, meanwhile, seem precious points slip away as they’ve dropped two straight games.

It was a nasty, entertaining one, but for Winnipeg the results were downright ugly.

Enstrom hospitalized after Sestito hit from behind (Video)

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Tom Sestito was already making his presence felt in the Penguins – Jets game on Wednesday before he received a game misconduct for checking Toby Enstrom.

In that regard, the Winnipeg Jets announced that Enstrom will not return to tonight’s game because of an upper-body injury.

You can see that hit in the video above. Things have been heated between the two teams from the start, largely due to the carryover hostilities regarding a controversial Evgeni Malkin hit on Blake Wheeler. (Wheeler briefly dropped the gloves with Malkin in retribution tonight, as you can see here.)

We’ll see if there is any supplemental discipline for Sestito. Considering the fact that this is his first game with the Penguins since Nov. 16, it’s unlikely that the team will be particularly moved if the rugged player does get suspended.

Update: Paul Maurice provided a worrisome update regarding Enstrom.

Yikes.

Apparently Patric Hornqvist was also diagnosed with a concussion on Wednesday, so the Penguins received some bad injury news today, too.

Fight video: Blake Wheeler gets some revenge on Evgeni Malkin

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Most people probably don’t expect a lot of vitriol between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Winnipeg Jets, but there sure seems to be some hard feelings between the two teams.

While it wasn’t a lengthy bout, Blake Wheeler got revenge on Evgeni Malkin for a controversial hit by landing a quick flurry of punches in a rare fight for the two.*

If that was too “amateurish” for you, Tom Sestito engaged in a heavyweight fight with Chris Thorburn not long after. You can see both fights and the general violence between the two teams in the video above. There was also some pretty hectic scoring:

Malkin has scored a goal in this game so far, while Winnipeg is leading 3-2 in a busy first period, so it remains to be seen which star forward will have the last laugh on Wednesday.

After the Penguins’ 7-4 win, Blake Wheeler said he respected Malkin for “answering the bell” while the Pittsburgh star admitted that his hit was questionable:

* – Odd note: Searches for fights involving both Wheeler and Malkin yielded results with Patrice Bergeron. Hmm.

Pens dress enforcer Sestito for grudge match versus Jets

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There were plenty of fireworks the last time Pittsburgh and Winnipeg played.

Tonight, when they meet for the first time since, there could be plenty more.

Pittsburgh will insert tough guy Tom Sestito into the lineup, after recalling him from the minors. The move is (presumably) in response to everything that occurred on Feb. 16, including Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Jets captain Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien’s hit on Pens d-man Justin Schultz, which left the latter with a concussion.

Oh yeah, Olli Maatta also had to exit the game following a big open ice hit from Adam Lowry (watch it here).

Chris Thorburn, Winnipeg’s resident pugilist, told the Winnipeg Sun Sestito’s inclusion “catches your attention a little bit,” adding “I’d probably be the one to address that.”

The Jets, of course, are desperately fighting to remain in playoff contention, so they’re insisting the focus is solely on securing two points. But at the same time, they were visibly frustrated after Malkin escaped punishment for the Wheeler hit, only for Jacob Trouba to get suspended days later for his hit on Mark Stone.

Then, after the Trouba-Stone incident, Winnipeg d-man Ben Chiarot voiced his displeasure with a high hit from Toronto’s Nazem Kadri, which also went unpunished.

“Might not be this year, might not be next year,” Chiarot warned. “But there will be a time where the shoe will be on the other foot.”

It’s probably worth noting the game on the 16th was in Pittsburgh.

Tonight’s rematch is in Winnipeg.