The Pittsburgh Penguins have been in training camp for less than a week.
There’s barely been enough time to squeeze in a handful of practices.
Or, apparently, enough to score a power-play goal.
Or to figure out how to prevent other teams from scoring them at will.
In the wake of their 6-2 preseason loss to Detroit Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena, the Penguins are 0-for-16 with the extra man and have allowed six goals in eight shorthanded situations during their first three exhibition games.
The Red Wings converted on both of their power plays while thwarting all nine of the Penguins’ power plays — and rubbing it in by scoring a shorthanded goal.
The Penguins have devoted little practice time to special-teams work and still have three more preseason games to get their special teams in order, so perhaps it’s not surprising that they haven’t been very sharp. Miserable as their performance has been during the first three exhibition games, players and coaches alike are adamant that it’s premature to panic.
“I don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about,” penalty-killer Brock McGinn said. “We’ll start working on it more now.”
Sidney Crosby echoed that sentiment, but added that, “We’ve got some games left. We’ve got to straighten things out, make sure we’re on the same page and execute a little better.”
While there are obvious risks in reading too much into anything that happens in a preseason game, it was a little surprising that they failed to convert on any of their nine power plays against the Red Wings, considering that the Penguins employed a No. 1 unit — Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel. Bryan Rust and Crosby — that likely will be their top power play during the regular season.
“There were some moments where they had it moving pretty good,” Mike Sullivan said. “And there were others where it was a struggle. But we have a ways to go, and we know it.”
‘A lot of work to do’
The Penguins’ dressed a veteran-heavy lineup that looked a lot like the one they’re expected to use on Opening Night, while Detroit’s was loaded with prospects and other young players.
And while the Red Wings looked to be more motivated and involved throughout the game, Sullivan said he isn’t worried by the way his players approached it.
“I’m reluctant to overreact in these circumstances, because my experience has been that veteran players, they try to get what they need (out of exhibition games),” he said. “They understand. They’ve been through this a lot.
“We were hopeful that we would have a stronger effort than we did. We know we have a ways to go. This is what I said to the players after the game: ‘Let’s not get discouraged. But if there’s any takeaway, the takeaway is, we’ve got a lot of work to do.’ ”
Scoring (and setting) goals
McGinn got the game off to a good start for the Pittsburgh Penguins, taking a feed from Marcus Pettersson, who was along the left-wing boards, and beating Red Wings goalie Victor Brattstrom over the glove from between the hash marks at 1:42 of the opening period.
“(Pettersson) did a good job of coming down the (boards) and not letting them chip the puck out, and then he made a great pass to me,” McGinn said.
Goal-scoring isn’t a major component of McGinn’s game — he’s scored more than 12 just once in seven NHL seasons — but he said he does enter each season with a sense of how much he would like to produce, offensively.
“Not an exact number, but I have an idea of what I want to come out and do,” he said. “I just want to come out and play my game, play my best hockey. If I do that, the points and stuff will come.”
No saving grace
Pittsburgh Penguins goalies Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith didn’t get much support from the guys in front of them, but neither of them was particularly sharp, either.
Jarry allowed four goals on 14 shots during 28 minutes, 24 seconds of work, while DeSmith gave up two on seven shots.
DeSmith yielded the second of those after being stripped of the puck by Red Wings forward Dominik Kubalik, who promptly scored Detroit’s shorthanded goal to close out the scoring.
Detroit got its second power-play goal after Penguins defenseman Jeff Petry was assessed a roughing minor for punching Red Wings right winger Jonatan Berggren in the back of the head at 5:50 of the second period.
Petry didn’t dispute the call, but said that sequence didn’t go exactly the way he intended, either.
“I was just trying to punch/push the top of his shoulder, to kind of knock him off-balance,” Petry said. “It grazed off the top of his shoulder and went up. I wasn’t trying to punch him in the back of the head, or anything like that.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins, 1-2 in preseason play, are scheduled to get down to two practice groups Wednesday, with the first one going on the ice at 10:10 a.m. at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
They will play exhibition games in Buffalo Saturday and Detroit Monday before closing out exhibition play with a home game against the Sabres Oct. 7.