It was a bleak afternoon inside PPG Paints Arena. As the sun was shining on the outside, the Pittsburgh Penguins brought out their worst in a 5-2 loss to the downtrodden Buffalo Sabres. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin had a pair of goals but they were merely a footnote.
Evgeni Malkin scored a pair of goals included a beauty early in the second period but scored his second goal in the final minutes of a decided loss. Malkin made a pair of mistakes in the opening seconds which spotted Buffalo its first goal.
The Penguins made more mistakes and Buffalo scored more goals. The Penguins were credited with only 11 giveaways, but that too seems generous. The Penguins gifted Buffalo more than a few transitions and pucks.
They also gifted Buffalo time and space at the wrong times and in the wrong spots.
“The same mistakes, like we saw today. A couple of turnovers. We’re not starting and stopping in zone,” Malkin said. “We’re not playing hard defense. Buffalo is a fast team, they’re fighting for the playoffs. We should understand we need to play physical.”
With a few exceptions including Patric Hornqvist, the Penguins were not physical. Nor were the Penguins coordinated.
“We need five guys in the offensive zone. Five guys to backcheck and five guys in the d-zone,” Malkin said. “We understand we’re not playing great but we have time to fix it.”
Sources told Pittsburgh Hockey Now on Saturday that frustration and concern are reaching high levels within the Penguins organization. Head coach Mike Sullivan was said to be extremely angry following the game.
The Penguins trailed the Buffalo Sabres 5-1 in the third period, as the crowd filed out. Malkin and the Penguins did pepper Buffalo goalie Carter Hutton with 18 shots in the third period, but it was too late.
As a side note, Malkin also discussed Alex Ovechkin who scored his 700th career goal on Saturday. Malkin colorfully referred to Ovechkin as “the Russian Machine.” The Penguins play the Washington Capitals. and Ovechkin on Sunday.