It could be the final nail in the playoff coffin or a key first step in pulling off a historic comeback but there is no margin for error. The Pittsburgh Penguins (0-3) face elimination and an embarrassing sweep against the New York Islanders (3-0) at PPG Paints Arena, tonight. The Penguins skipped practice Monday, had a veteran-led team meeting and juggled their lines Tuesday morning.
It would be an ignominious defeat for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan returned to late season lines Tuesday morning, including Jared McCann back on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist with Nick Bjugstad.
The Penguins will face their first series sweep since 2013 and give them a lot to ponder this offseason. They have been outplayed and outworked, but remain confident that their ship isn’t sunk…yet. Similar to bad Wifi, Mike Sullivan feels maybe his team needs an unplug and reseat as he canceled practice Monday. Sullivan joked it was to catch up on Game of Thrones.
Anyway, “All Men Must Serve” tonight for the Penguins if they want to stave off elimination. The Penguins held a 23-14-4 record at home this season but dropped game three at home on Sunday.
New York will have four games to collect the clincher. This can be the first time New York has advanced to the second round since 2015. They did not qualify for the playoff the last two years, despite being led by John Tavares.
The Penguins will look to Matt Murray in net to help save their season. Murray feels that perfection might be out of the question, but he feels ready to do his best. Robin Lehner starts for New York.
In Game 3, Penguins fans were hoping to see the first step in recovery but the hole got deeper with 4-1 loss on Sunday. The Penguins played well for large stretches of the game but an awful 90 secs proved lethal. For the second straight game, the Penguins struck first but watched the lead quickly dissipate. Tuesday morning, PHN asked the Penguins about giving up the leads.
Garrett Wilson (1) deflected Marcus Pettersson’s shot 12 minutes into the game to give the Penguins only goal. New York struck for two goals a minute apart to take the lead and the win.
Despite chances on the power play and generating offensive pressure, the Penguins could not score the tying goal. New York’s Leo Komarov (1) plunged the dagger into the hearts of the Penguins and fans with late third period goal. Anders Lee (1) filled the empty net for a 4-1 final.
Murray submitted a strong effort but was left dangling with a 32 save effort. Robin Lehner won only his third career playoff game by stopping 25 of 26 shots. Lehner also helped New York kill three penalties with four keys saves.
Also: Tomorrow join Dan LIVE at Redbeard’s Bar and Grill at 1 p.m. for his weekly Penguins chat on our YouTube channel. Take a late lunch and talk some pucks!
Andrew Ladd (Torn ACL. Out for Season)
Tanner Fritz (Upper Body)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||23.7%, 4th NHL||77.4%, 27th NHL|
|New York Islanders||18.8%, 21st NHL||83.7%, 6th NHL|
Penguins -200 Over/Under 5.5, -35
Expected Penguins Lines
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Freddy Gaudreau|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Brandon Tanev|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|