It wasn’t over as soon as it started, but the Pittsburgh Penguins made mistakes…after turnovers…after takeaways. The Carolina Hurricanes flexed their first-place muscle and converted the Penguins’ mistakes into goals. As Herman’s Hermits sung nearly 60 years ago–second verse, same as the first.
The Penguins continue to make mistakes with the puck and leave players uncovered in the transition game. The mistakes are becoming repetitive. Carolina showed the Penguins just where the bar is set to win the division and win the Eastern Conference. Despite a frantic third period in which the Penguins outshot Carolina 14-5, the Penguins are looking up at Carolina (figuratively) in several ways.
The Penguins were not without chances and were not without energy. They were without details and execution. It was a phrase Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan used several times.
“…The issue tonight. It was about attention to detail and execution. And in some instances, we self-inflicted with some of the opportunities we gave them. It’s hard to beat a team that’s as good as Carolina is if we do that. And so we’ve got to do a better job at being harder to play against when we have the puck–its execution,” Sullivan explained. “When we don’t have the puck, it’s attention to detail. And I thought in a few instances, we lost some structure there on the D side and the offensive side when we had the puck. We just didn’t execute in certain instances. And then, as a result, we found their transition game…”
The distinction between “details” and execution was also noted. When the Penguins have the puck, it is a lack of execution. When they’re defending, it is details. They lacked both by allowing goals nine seconds into the second and third periods.
The first time (second period) was the Heinen-Malkin-Carter line that swallowed a spoonful of bad luck after Carter lost the opening faceoff. Goalie Tristan Jarry gave up a rebound that bounced past Kris Letang, off the top of Jeff Carter’s stick, off Carolina center Jordan Staal back through Jarry. It was the kind of fluky goal that good teams playing well get from the hockey gods, and teams not playing well give up.
The details that were lost were easy.