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Rough debut for Penguins’ DeSmith as Wheeler completes hat trick

Calgary Flames v Winnipeg Jets

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - MARCH 11: Blake Wheeler #26 and Dustin Byfuglien #33 of the Winnipeg Jets during NHL action against the Calgary Flames on March 11, 2017 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)

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You know how Mario Lemieux scored his first NHL goal during his first NHL shift in his first game? Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith essentially experienced a reverse-Lemieux on Sunday night.

Matt Murray ended up getting the start against the Winnipeg Jets, but he was chased out of the net after allowing four goals in less than 20 minutes of play. That opened the door for DeSmith’s debut, where he gave up Blake Wheeler’s hat-trick goal.

The first shot DeSmith faced ended up being an absolute beauty by Wheeler, and he soon saw hats littering the Jets’ ice. Talk about a harsh introduction, although Wheeler’s biggest victim on that play was probably a helpless Kris Letang.

Speaking of harsh, one can imagine that Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan will “share his thoughts” with his team during the first intermission.

Wheeler scored the fastest hat trick in Jets’ history, collecting his three goals in a blistering 4:20 of play, part of a miserable showing from Matt Murray (four goals allowed on just nine shots on goal).

Here’s video of the hat trick:

Pittsburgh fell 2-1 to the Minnesota Wild last night, so there’s a question about how much the Penguins have left in the tank to push for an unlikely comeback. So far, the Jets look like they’re game. If nothing else, DeSmith should get some chances to pile up some saves.

Speaking of getting saves, for some a night like this is just another reminder that Pittsburgh needs a more dependable backup:

Update: The Jets ended up winning 7-1. For more on the Penguins’ struggles closing out back-to-back sets, check this post.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.