Penguins Grades: ANOTHER Blown Lead, ‘They Wait for Us to Make Mistakes’ (+)
“It’s tough to swallow. You know, it stings,” Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said following another third-period collapse against the New York Islanders in a 4-3 OT loss at PPG Paints Arena.
It was not a must-win game for the Penguins, but if they would like to play in the 2023 NHL playoffs or have any passionate desires to play more than four games in the postseason, learning to beat teams above them in the Metro Division is a must. Thursday’s game against the New York Islanders again looked like a step forward.
And again was a step back.
The Penguins vastly outplayed the Islanders for 40 minutes, but the Islanders’ third period attack loomed. Over their previous nine games, the Islanders outscored opponents 15-1.
Make that 17-1 in 10 games.
Lazy mistakes, inexplicable decisions, and coverage breakdowns in the third period again sabotaged the Penguins and lifted the Islanders, who seemed to know the Penguins would self-destruct.
“They play a hard defensive game. We can’t make mistakes,” Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry said. “That’s what they try and capitalize on. They’re good at it. They wait for things to happen. They wait for us to make mistakes, and they’re able to capitalize on them.”
The Islanders weren’t wrong. That Jarry knows that they know also speaks volumes.
Yet there was good news.
The Penguins gained a point. They lead the Buffalo Sabres by six points for the final wild card, but the Penguins lost for the ninth time when leading after two periods. Three of those are to the Islanders. And the details are important to know and important to discuss.