The Pittsburgh Penguins lost two of three to the best teams in the Eastern Conference. After an effervescent win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Penguins were beset by mistakes, a lack of scoring by the middle lines, and easy access to their net. On Tuesday night, the Florida Panthers beat the Penguins 4-3 at PPG Paints Arena.
It was the Penguins’ seventh home loss (2-4-3) in their last nine games.
“I didn’t like our first period at all,” head coach Mike Sullivan said.
Get the Pittsburgh Penguins postgame wrap here.
The Penguins trailed 2-0 after the first period. Both goals resulted from (a lack of) net-front defense as Sam Reinhart scored against three Penguins defenders and Aaron Ekblad scored through a maze of Panthers’ traffic in front of goalie Tristan Jarry.
“It’s a point of emphasis. I mean, that’s how you win against good teams is when the net-front battles. I mean, they scored two. Obviously there, I think we could clear the puck a little bit better and also box guys out early,” defenseman Brian Dumoulin said.
However, the Penguins’ top line again provided the offense. Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust had a goal and an assist. Jake Guentzel also scored. All three goals by the Penguins top-liners.
Winger Kasperi Kapanen began the game on the second line with Evgeni Malkin, but did not finish there. He was dropped down in the lineup and played just 12 minutes. He didn’t have a shot on goal.
The Penguins are solidly in third place but missed a chance to claim second place in the Metro Division. Get the full game breakdown from PHN editor-in-chief Dan Kingerski from PPG Paints Arena.