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Penguins Room: Some Explanation on Kris Letang’s Penalty; More Reaction



Pittsburgh Penguins, Kris Letang

The 15 third-period scoring chances, nor 27 chances throughout the game, were not enough for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who lost a winnable game against the New York Rangers, 7-4, at PPG Paints Arena.

The Penguins were energetic and emotional, but perhaps too emotional for referees Chris Rooney and TJ Luxmore. Following a close call on New York’s late second-period power-play goal, in which goalie Tristan Jarry seemed to have covered the puck a moment before New York forward Chris Kreider kicked it away and passed it to Artermi Panarin for what became the game-winning goal.

“I think they had an exchange, him and the ref. So, I’m not sure what was said … but I know they had an exchange,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said.

Letang was defending Kreider as the New  York winger kicked the puck loose. As Jarry laughed incredulously, Letang had a few words for the refs.

“Just emotion on the penalty and on the play. That’s it,” was all Letang said.

For his quick discussion with officials, he was assessed a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which put the Penguins PK under the heat lamps again, and New York scored again, making it 5-3.

Coach Mike Sullivan clearly wasn’t happy with referees on the ice, though he tempered his comments and made his point without venturing into controversial territory.

“He obviously had an exchange with the referee, and the referee didn’t like what he said,” Sullivan said. “So I’d like to believe, especially at this time of year, that the officials understand that the players have a lot at stake, and these guys are invested, and it’s emotional. It’s an emotional game.”


The referees had a different opinion.

Penguins fans seemed to be split on the matter. The staunch anti-Letang crowd quickly lept to attack the defenseman.

But also more reasoned takes were available. Letang was perhaps the Penguins’ best defenseman Saturday, with the best-advanced stats of the group, two shots on goal, and four that were blocked.

But that penalty hurt. It paved the way for the Rangers’ power play to salt the game and put the Penguins seven points out of a playoff spot, though they face that very team, the Detroit Red Wings, on Sunday at PPG Paints Arena.

Crosby seemed somewhat heartened by the plethora of scoring chances the Penguins had but had no choice but to acknowledge the number of mistakes the Penguins made and how many wound up in the back of their net.