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Penguins Got Another Point, But Don’t Feel Good About It



Pittsburgh Penguins Bryan Rust

For the second time in two games, the depleted Pittsburgh Penguins went to overtime against the Eastern Conference power New York Islanders. On Tuesday, the Penguins squandered a pair of two-goal leads. Thursday night, the Penguins were forced to kill penalties and rally without their top two defensemen and top centerman. The Penguins lost in overtime again, 4-3 in Brooklyn but it could have been yet another moral victory for the Penguins, who probably lead the league if there were such a category.

But the sentiment in the locker room has grown tired of moral victories.

This season, the team has repeatedly and continually dominated opponents at even strength. However, it’s been a cavalcade of reasons which have denied the Penguins (11-7-4) additional wins. Injuries have kept high-end talent and continuity from the Penguins lineup.

“I guess you could call it (a good point). Anytime you play that hard and played pretty well against a really good team, and battle back like that, you’d like the extra point,” Bryan Rust said with a bit of disgust. Rust has been on a tear since returning to the lineup a few weeks ago. Thursday night he scored his eighth goal in just 11 games.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray was the unlucky player who dished the far too common line after the second OT loss to New York.

“We played really well. I thought we deserved better,” Murray said. “If we don’t take seven penalties, if we don’t have to kill that many, we probably would have a better result.”

Head coach Mike Sullivan echoed the refrain but also acknowledged the giant holes in the Penguins lineup.

“I thought 5v5, we played really well. We made good decisions with the puck. I thought we were competing hard,” Sullivan said. “It was a collective effort. It was a team play on both sides of the puck. And that’s how we have to play given the circumstance we’re in right now.”

The gritted teeth and grinding tones tell more of the story than the proper words. Rust grimaced when asked about a moral victory. And indeed, the Penguins are staying afloat in the Eastern Conference despite seemingly insurmountable problems. There’s ample reason to be accepting of overtime points, but losing to a team like New York twice in three days leaves a what Bryan Rust called a “sour taste.”

And that’s to the Penguins credit. Show me a team happy with losing and I’ll show you a team that loses more than wins.

Let the Anger Flow

The Pittsburgh Penguins are building some good hate. The pangs of losing come with enough of an asterisk that frustration hasn’t impeded their play. They’re neither gripping their sticks too tight or throwing up their hands. The Penguins are scoring goals, including seven over the last two games against stingy New York.

Thursday night, everything went against the Penguins. From Guentzel’s phantom roughing call which elicited the harsh words that drew the extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, to the referees erroneously telling Jared McCann that he was ejected for attempting a late-game fight with New York defenseman Scott Mayfield. McCann left the ice and was undressed in the locker room when he finally learned he had not been ejected. He raced back for overtime.

There wasn’t a good reason McCann would have been ejected other than being the scrappy little dog who wanted a piece of a much bigger dog (Scott Mayfield), while large New York forward Anders Lee rained rights upon Zach Aston-Reese.

In fairness, the Penguins don’t have the talent or the horses for a 3-on-3 skills competition in overtime. The three players on the ice when New York scored the winner were Marcus Pettersson, Bryan Rust, and Sam Lafferty. While those players are wonderful role players, that’s an NHL bubble player, a role player and a young defenseman not known for scoring points.

Brandon Tanev, Teddy Blueger, and John Marino immediately preceded that trio. A lot of compliments can be dished for those three but there isn’t an offensive player in that group, either.

It’s good the Penguins were angry and felt cheated. In a small sense, the officials by virtue of awarding New York seven power plays and making mistakes at the end of the game hurt the Penguins. In a larger context, the injury list is ridiculous and the Penguins will need to scrap every game to earn points because they’re missing Hall of Fame talent.

That’s the “circumstance we’re in right now.”

The Pittsburgh Penguins can and perhaps should be upset over the lost point but in reality, these are crucial points which are keeping the Penguins in the playoff race.

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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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2 years ago

With Sid, Geno and Letang in their 30’s, is this a glimpse of what the Pens will be when the “Core” hangs up their skates?

2 years ago
Reply to  Enzo58

Yes! We continue to spend money on non-elite talent, soon ew won;lt have any. Work ethic is important and I get the idea behind it very much. But, you need the talent. And, since work ethic is so important, you can make the case, that middling guys like JJ, and Tanev, (although he does have 7 goals, right?) and a few others , would be better replaced with guys with less salary and pay some elite talent big money. For example, not that a we really had a chance, but would we be better with the roster as constituted, or… Read more »

2 years ago

The battle and effort by the Pens last night was very strong. The play of 72 last night and most nights still amazes me that he wasn’t given the “A” on a permanent basis. I know the narrative of a lot of fans is to put the L on 30 in OT, but I thought 28 was simply a pylon and Nelson simply skated right by him. 30 is ultimately responsible for the D of the net, but when 87 makes a play such as that and wins in OT, the marvel is on the play of 87 and not… Read more »

2 years ago

I agree with a lot of the above. Matt Murray constantly getting thr Flower comparisons do him zero favors and he will likely never come out on the favourable end of such. Murray was as big a part of the back to back as any other player. Since that time I dont see how anyone can make the claim that he has been anything but average which on a good day with Sid and Geno may be fine. The issue is the Pens are clearly in the shit right now and need decent or better from Matthew and by no… Read more »

2 years ago

Murray is now 31st in SV%.He has consistency problems and he would have 1 cup if MAF did not steal the first two rounds in the second cup year.He ended great last year but he put his team down early so he needs to be better and Sully needs to know when to give him a break.Early in MAF’S career coach Therrien was great at knowing when he was going bad and give him a couple of games off to work with Giles Meloche and get back on track.

2 years ago

Should have added this might be a great time to get Murray signed when he may be open to signing a bit cheaper and if his number stars over 6 i would move on and clean up in the trade.

2 years ago

I don’t want to get into Murray right now but where the *%^$ was Galchenyuk last night? He needs to pick it up and fast.

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