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Penguins Grades: Why Pens Struggle Against Good Teams, DeSmith Rebounds (+)

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby

The headline is a double entendre. The Pittsburgh Penguins played a tight, gritty game against the playoff-bound Boston Bruins but weren’t quite ready for the 12:30 puck drop. Temporary starting goalie Casey DeSmith played a significant role in the Penguins’ early deficit, and erasing two goals against a defensive team was too much to ask.

The Boston Bruins scored two goals in the first two minutes and beat the Penguins 2-1 at TD Garden on Saturday.

“..The final 58 (minutes), we were competitive. I thought we played a solid game. But the first two, we weren’t ready to play,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “It’s hard to spot a team two goals in the fashion we did. It makes it hard to win. That’s the biggest takeaway.”

Casey DeSmith was good for most of the game but was scrambly and served a few big pizzas in the first period. His struggles were just enough for Boston, which did not give up many scoring chances. He did give his team a chance after the first two minutes.

“I was happy with how I played, you know, made a couple of good saves the first period. Some in the third,” DeSmith said. “…Just go out there and give our team a chance, and I thought I’d do that.”

According to Natural Stat Trick, each team only had six high-danger scoring chances. Overall, the Penguins outchanced Boston 17-12, but it was a low-danger game after the first five minutes.

What Boston did and what the Penguins didn’t do continues a trend against top teams that serves as another lesson.

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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.