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Penguins Grades: Another Lead Lost, Problems Mount with 2-1 WC Loss (+)

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Evgeni Malkin, Winter Classic

BOSTON — The Pittsburgh Penguins have lost five straight, including a couple of overtime games. They narrowly missed overtime Monday at the Winter Classic, when Evgeni Malkin’s shot deflected off Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark but crossed the goal line a moment after time expired. Boston beat the Penguins, 2-1, at Fenway Park.

The Penguins could not have played better in the first 35 minutes. Outdoor games are a little bit different. The ice and the conditions deteriorate throughout the game. It should have worked against the Penguins, but they made it work flawlessly for the first 35 minutes.

“I just think it’s such a game of momentum. We had it for stretches. They had it for stretches,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “I don’t think there were really a whole lot of high-quality looks on either side … there’s a fine line between winning and losing. It comes down to some subtle details and some timely plays.”

The Penguins limited Boston to a single shot in the first 12 minutes of the second period. Fourth-liner Kasperi Kapanen had his “A game” and scored a goal from the front of the net and had another great chance.

“It’s pretty surreal. I think some players go without playing any of these, and I’ve been lucky to get two. It’s just an amazing atmosphere out there and a special moment. And was it something special.”

But in the third period, the pace of the game slowed, at least for the Penguins. The Bruins attacked, and the Penguins could not push back. The Penguins’ problems are mounting.

The power play. Injuries. Style. And coaching decisions come under the PHN microscope in the Report Card.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.