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Penguins Grades: Big Mistakes & Power Play Failures in Loss to NJD (+)

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby

The Pittsburgh Penguins weren’t terrible on Friday night, as they have been for five of their last six periods. Howevr, damning praise is probably all they get after squandering nine power plays, including a four-minute advantage midway through the third period, and a pair of plays by star players that looked more like defensive indifference.

The New Jersey Devils worsened the Penguins’ slide with a 4-2 win at PPG Paints Arena.

It was New Jersey’s second win in their last 10 games. The Penguins have lost three games in a row at PPG Paints Arena and five of their last six (1-3-2), all against Metro Division opponents.

In a crowded Metro Division in which two playoff-worthy teams will miss the playoffs, the Penguins are starting to play with fire. They gave away one of their games in hand on both the New York Rangers and Islanders. All three teams have 44 points. One will not make the playoffs.

The Penguins still have one game in hand.

They did not heed coach Mike Sullivan’s warning against beating themselves or giving opponents “easy offense.” Instead, a pair of head-scratching defensive efforts by the Penguins stars handed New Jersey glorious chances that became easy goals.

Officials played a hefty role in the game, but they were fair. Both teams racked up frequent flyer miles on their way to the penalty box. The Penguins had over 16 minutes of power play time. New Jersey enjoyed just below eight minutes but won the special teams battle with one PPG and one short-handed goal.

But oh those two defensive plays…

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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.