The difference between last season and this season is stark. The tight, systemic New York Islanders were able to frustrate the Pittsburgh Penguins, who preferred to attempt to outscore opponents rather than outplay them. Fast forward to this season, the Penguins can match the New York structure, and there are more similarities than differences. Eventually, the Penguins again lost in overtime as New York is a better OT team, 4-3 at the Barclays Center.
At 5v5, the Penguins showed their prowess and work ethic. In a role reversal, the Penguins outworked New York at even strength. Still, to the Penguins detriment, they were undisciplined, including a late tripping penalty by Sam Lafferty, which led to Brock Nelson’s go-ahead goal with less than five minutes left.
Lafferty’s trip was one of seven power-plays which the Penguins yielded to New York. Most of the calls were legit, except the double minor to Jake Guentzel in the second period for roughing and then flapping his gums afterward. That was by all reviews a phantom penalty. Otherwise, the Penguins earned their repetitive shorthanded status.
The Penguins should not have been able to force overtime though it may not feel like it in the locker room.
“I guess you could call it (a good point). Anytime you play that hard and play pretty well against a really good team, and battle back like that, you’d like the extra point,” Bryan Rust said.
Stylistically, the teams are so similar, but there were a few wrinkles. The report card and game analysis is a separation of even strength play and breaking down special teams. There were several key matchups, which favored the Penguins at even strength. We’ll also breakdown the Penguins OT issues. They’re quite easy to diagnose, tough to fix.