Paul Martin probably could have had a bigger impact on the outcome of this game.

It’s just hard to imagine how.

He led the Penguins in ice time, logging 23 minutes and 46 seconds.

Skated a regular shift alongside Brooks Orpik.

Killed penalties.

Played the point on a power play that came within a split-second of generating multiple goals for the first time in the past seven games.

And, oh yeah, scored the winner in the Penguins’ 4-2 victory against Winnipeg Thursday night at MTS Centre.

Other than that, Martin had a fairly uneventful evening in his first game back after missing 18 because of a broken hand.

“He didn’t miss a beat, right from the start,” Orpik said. “He didn’t look rusty at all to me. He moved the puck extremely well and the calmness and patience that he always plays with didn’t disappear.”

No, but any chance Philadelphia had of overtaking the Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division did. That actually happened about an hour before the Penguins game ended, because the Flyers were beaten at home by Columbus, 2-0.

Although the Penguins (49-23-5) winning the Metropolitan makes sunrises in the East seem like a major upset, that didn’t detract from their satisfaction — likely because there have been times this season when simply fielding a healthy 20-man squad was almost as challenging as winning games.

“When you think about what we’ve gone through and the injuries we’ve had, that’s pretty good,” said center Sidney Crosby, who had two assists to run his league-leading points total to 102.

While Martin’s return had the most profound impact, his comeback wasn’t the Penguins’ only significant personnel change.

Coach Dan Bylsma reconfigured his forward lines, plugging Beau Bennett into the spot Lee Stempniak had been filling alongside Crosby and Chris Kunitz.