CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. — It’s a different sort of hockey hangover, the Pittsburgh Penguins said Monday. The morning after a loss during a stretch such as in November when wins were rarities is one thing. Monday, following a 5-3 loss to Chicago that broke an eight-game winning streak, is something else.
It is, perhaps, a contrasting type of hunger and perspective.
“You want to get back on the winning track right away,” winger Patric Hornqvist said. “You know how good a feeling it is in the (locker) room and personally when you’re winning. It makes life so much easier.
“This is the best part of this league – you play every second (day on average), so tomorrow we have a chance to get back on a winning streak.”
The Penguins host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, their final home game for almost three weeks.
The Panthers can expect an opponent jonesing to get a fix with a win.
“On that eight-game winning streak, it’s obviously fun when you’re winning. It’s fun to be around the locker room. When we have that success, we want it,” defenseman Brian Dumoulin said. “It’s one loss. We can’t let it set us back. We have to move by it.”
Coach Mike Sullivan noted that there’s no room for any other approach. All those recent wins lifted the Penguins into contention for the Metropolitan Division title, but there’s no separation. They sit two points behind division leader Washington and one point ahead of Columbus.
“It’s an indication of the parity in the league,” Sullivan said. “The three-point system with the overtime points, it’s hard to create the separation that you’d like. But I do think it makes us a better team because every night’s so important. I think our players understand it.”
Veteran defenseman Jack Johnson suggested a bit of caution, however, when it comes to treating hockey hangovers with varying remedies based on circumstance.
“It’s never a good feeling to lose. It always feels the same when you lose,” Johnson said. “We’re just excited and anxious to get back at it tomorrow.”