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Problems Mount as Playoffs Near; Penguins Crash in 5-1 Loss to McDavid, Oilers

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Pittsburgh Penguins lose 5-1 Edmonton Oilers

The Pittsburgh Penguins struggles against good teams and similar problems giving up goals immediately after scoring were on full display on Tuesday. Less than 30 seconds after Jeff Carter tied the game in the second period, the Penguins relinquished the lead and were never again even. Connor McDavid had four points, including a deal-clinching goal in the third period, as Edmonton was too much for the Penguins, 4-1 at PPG Paints Arena.

If they haven’t yet, the warning bells in the Penguins’ room should be going off. In their last 11 games against playoff teams dating to mid-March, the Penguins have just three wins. The Penguins have only four wins in their last five games.

The Penguins only saving grace, the New York Islanders were headed to victory over the Washington Capitals, which preserved the Penguins one-point lead for third place, though Washington retains one game in hand.

Wayne Gretzky-Mario Lemieux. Jaromir Jagr-Eric Lindros. Sidney Crosby-Connor McDavid. Hockey fans don’t often get to watch generational talents face-off, and the Pittsburgh Penguins have not hosted the Edmonton Oilers since Nov. 2, 2019. Sidney Crosby is one of the game’s all-time greats, and Connor McDavid will likely finish his career in the same pantheon.

OK, maybe Lindros belongs in that sentence, maybe not. For a time, he certainly did. Don’t get hung up on that.

Before the game on Tuesday, head coach Mike Sullivan also expressed his appreciation of the event.

“We’re privileged here in Pittsburgh because we’ve been able to watch Crosby and Malkin and Letang and these guys for a long time and see what they’ve done and what they’ve accomplished. And McDavid and Draisaitl are the next generation,” Sullivan said.

The first period wasn’t heavy on the matchup. Crosby didn’t have any shots. McDavid had only one shot, but did get an assist.

The Penguins third defensive pairing and Jeff Carter’s line did get hemmed in by McDavid’s line later in the first period. The Penguins could not gain possession after a couple of wall battles, and defenseman Evan Bouchard (12) beat goalie Casey DeSmith on the glove side with a 30-foot wrister from behind the dot.

Bouchard scored again early in the second period, but Penguins replay savant Andy Saucier noted a skate blade was offside but about an inch, and the goal was overturned.

The Penguins nearly scored a power-play goal midway through the period. Instead, the tally was even strength as Jeff Carter (19) pounded in a rebound off the back wall a moment after a Penguins power play expired. It was Carter’s 23rd goal in 37 career games against Edmonton.

However…

As it has happened several times in the recent weeks…

The Pittsburgh Penguins gave it back…

Gave it right back.

Just 25 seconds after Jeff Carter celebrated a tie game and before PA announcer Ryan Mill, who has good taste in sports coats, could announce the goal, Edmonton reclaimed the lead.

The Edmonton Oilers never relinquished it. Or, the Penguins never tied it.

McDavid went wide on defenseman John Marino. Danton Heinen, Brock McGinn, and Brian Dumoulin converged on Kailer Yamamoto in the slot, but no one took away his stick or space. Yamamoto’s quick backhand pass set up Evander Kane (22) for an easy backside goal.

Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson took a tripping penalty early in the third that seemed to seal the Penguins fate. Edmonton had significant momentum and the Penguins didn’t challenge.

Bryan Rust earned a hooking call in the middle of the period. Connor McDavid (44) snapped a power-play goal, and the PPG crowd began to filter home.

Zack Kassian scored the empty netter (after Derrick Brassard’s EN goal was overturned for offside).

Casey DeSmith left a few crumbs on the table but was otherwise solid. He stopped 37 of 41 before being pulled for the extra attacker. Edmonton goalie Mike Smith nearly scored an empty-net goal but the puck took a late bounce just wide. He stopped 31 of 32 shots.

Smith won his 10th in a row, which tied Grant Fuhr for an Oilers record.

Penguins winger Jason Zucker left the game in the first period. Sullivan did not have an update, other than being evaluated for a lower-body injury.

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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.

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Jeff Young
Jeff Young
5 months ago

Saucier was great again!

Wasnt
5 months ago

Well that sucked. Least the Craps did lose also.
Panthers are starting to slump and it might be a good match up if the stars align.

Chase Cranson
Chase Cranson
5 months ago

This is the result of keeping the core JMR was making the necessary moves and we all know who vetoed him this new management team are useless enjoy the playoffs this year could be the last one for a while Let’s Go Pens !!!

Mike Kirkell
Mike Kirkell
5 months ago
Reply to  Chase Cranson

Actually, this is the result of GMJR allocating 20M in cap space and 2 first round picks for Zucker, Kapanen, McGinn, Petersson, and Marino.

Ethan
Ethan
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike Kirkell

Not sure about the McGinn part–think he was signed last summer by Hextall. Perhaps you meant Tanev–would have loved his energy in the last couple.

Katz is Dumb
Katz is Dumb
5 months ago
Reply to  Ethan

Except Tanev hasn’t played since December…

Michael Orslene
Michael Orslene
5 months ago

It pains me that I seem to care more about some of these games than they do.

Mike Kirkell
Mike Kirkell
5 months ago

1. This team is vanilla, lacks grit and identity, has a horrid defense (who’s third best is a scary question), has lesser goaltending, and has a bad mix up front. 2. They’re being coached as if they’re still the 2016 Penguins. But, they’re no longer the fastest and deepest team with the best high end talent. So, once again, as the season ends, they’re spent and overmatched as true contenders up their games (this is the real reason the Pens are collapsing again . . . they’re built and coached to win in November). 3. I’m not sure what Sullivan… Read more »

Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher
5 months ago

Dead team skating.

Michael Hanczar
Michael Hanczar
5 months ago

Heard the pregame talk that the Pens will call up a couple players like O’Connor and others for the playoffs since the salary cap will be off. Time to bench Kap, ERod and Heinen.

Paul
Paul
5 months ago

Love where this team is right now. No expectations, no pressure and Sid in an underdog role. Oh, and a goalie who can be counted on in the postseason for a change. #Per-fect

Pete Hoffman
Pete Hoffman
5 months ago

They look soooooooo slow.
67 is the only one that seems to have any energy left.

Wasnt
5 months ago

Honestly, at the beginning of the season did anyone really think Pens had a chance in the Metro with all the other teams and the moves for better players while the Pens lost McCann and Tannin let alone even make the playoffs? Pens did way better than I ever thought. Go Pens

Uros
Uros
5 months ago

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. I don’t know what it is so I’ll go with a conspiracy theory. The Pens are playing badly and saving all their energy for one last charge. Jarry isn’t really injured, but they’ve put him on a scooter with a walking boot to make everyone think he’s out. Sullivan is juggling lines to confuse everyone and has something in his back pocket. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were true? By the way, I’ve just finished watching Stars VGK and Klingberg had a couple of really bad turnovers and was bailed out… Read more »

Katz is Dumb
Katz is Dumb
5 months ago
Reply to  Uros

By the way, you over use the phrase, “By the way.”

Uros
Uros
5 months ago
Reply to  Katz is Dumb

Right you are. And it does make me laugh now that I’ve calmed down and saw it after reading your reply. I’ll try to write comments when I cool down, not right after the game, as to avoid the repetitiveness.

DaGama
DaGama
5 months ago
Reply to  Uros

No worries, been there done that. And by the way… 🙃