RALEIGH, N.C. — The Pittsburgh Penguins’ power play failed to score on either of its chances during a 4-2 loss to Carolina at PNC Arena Saturday night,
And while that might not be the only reason the Penguins lost their second consecutive game and dropped back to .500 (8-8), it certainly was a factor.
Just as its lack of productivity has been so often this season.
The Penguins have scored a man-advantage goal in just four of their first 16 games, and are 1-for-13 with the extra man in their past six.
During their four minutes of power-play time against the Hurricanes, the Penguins manufactured a total of one — count it, one — shot on Carolina goalie Antti Raanta.
“Our power play has to be better, to at least give us some momentum,” Sidney Crosby said.
Coach Mike Sullivan suggested there’s a pretty obvious explanation for its lackluster showing against Carolina.
“Obviously, we didn’t execute,” he said. “I thought we struggled on the entry, so we didn’t have a lot of (offensive) zone time because we struggled on the entry. For me, that was the biggest thing today. If we could have executed better on the entry, we would have given ourselves a chance to establish some zone time. We had no zone time, so it’s hard to score when you’re not in the offensive zone. I think that was the biggest issue tonight.”
The Penguins battled Carolina on fairly even terms, but made just enough mistakes to stretch their winless streak here.
“When we played behind them, established some zone time, that’s when we were at our best,” Sullivan said. “We try to make some plays in front of them, we get stick-checked and I thought we gave them some momentum.”
Sidney Crosby scored both of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ goals, swelling his total for the season to 12.
The second came at 9:16 of the third, just 44 seconds after an apparent goal by Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov was disallowed after a Penguins challenge led to the play being deemed offside.
Trouble is, less than three minutes after Crosby had tied the game, 2-2, Seth Jarvis put the Hurricanes in front to stay.
“It’s tough when you tie it up,” Crosby said. “And then they come back and get one.”
While Carolina might have been a bit more opportunistic than the Penguins, Crosby noted that his team also had a number of quality scoring chances that it failed to convert.
“We had multiple 2-on-1s, we had breakaways,” he said. “We could be talking about those if those went in, and we wouldn’t be talking about the other ones. It just comes down to putting the puck in the net at the right time.”
It’s been nearly five years since the Pittsburgh Penguins won a game at PNC Arena — they last did it on Dec. 22, 2018 — and goaltender Tristan Jarry says there’s nothing subtle about the Hurricanes’ formula for success.
“They play a disciplined game,” Jarry said. “They forecheck all ends of the ice. They put a lot of pressure on us. They take away time and space, and they just wait for us to make a mistake. That’s kind of how it played out. We make a mistake and it ends up in our net.”
Although the game was tied, 1-1, at the second intermission, Carolina outscored the Penguins, 3-1, during the final 20 minutes.
“They just got a couple more opportunities than we did,” Jarry said. “They were putting pucks at the net and I think they were converging at the net. That’s the toughest area to defend.”
It certainly looked that way on Seth Jarvis’ game-winner at 11:52 of the third, as he established position in front of Jarry before steering in a Jaccob Slavin pass to break a 2-2 tie.
“They had a couple guys in front with our guys, battling,” Jarry said. “They were just able to get a stick on it.”