The Pittsburgh Penguins had a lot of shots in the first two periods. They suppressed the New Jersey Devils and overall allowed only 21 shots. However, it wasn’t until the third period when the Penguins showed desperation and genuinely blitzed the New Jersey net and goalie MacKenzie Blackwood with prime scoring chances. They couldn’t beat Blackwood and thus couldn’t beat New Jersey as the Penguins fifth straight comeback attempt failed 2-1 at the Prudential Center.
The game had a familiar refrain. Second verse, same as the first. There were positives to take away. The Penguins had a large shot differential and a big advantage in scoring chances. Yet, the Penguins lost their second straight and failed to win for the third time in those five games (2-2-1).
The loss kept the Penguins in fifth place in the Metro Division and to the second wild-card position.
And for good measure, Penguins center Nick Bjugstad suffered an injury in the second period. It appeared to be his left leg or ankle turned awkwardly as he tangled with a defender at center ice. He left the game and did not return. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan will not be available for an update until 5 p.m. Saturday before the Penguins host the Toronto Maple Leafs in a direct battle for the final playoff position.
The Penguins did several things well, though they lacked a true sense of urgency until the third period. Until then, the Penguins scoring chances were more often one-offs, rather than building to a crescendo. They didn’t create the open net rebound chance and Jake Guentzel hit the crossbar when he sneaked behind the New Jersey defense on a short breakaway chance.
How they created those chances were interesting.