The Pittsburgh Penguins enjoyed a night against a non-playoff team which wanted to skate and not grind, skate and not fight, and should have been a beaten foe. Instead, it was the Detroit Red Wings which capitalized on the Penguins mistakes, outskated the Penguins and buried their chances. The Penguins whiffed on their first chance to clinch a playoff spot and lost to Detroit 4-1 at Little Ceasars Arena.
Tactically, the Penguins accepted Detriot’s offer to skate. The short breakout passes under duress which sprung the Penguins chances against Carolina Sunday were replaced with controlled zone entries and one-off scoring chances. The Penguins did not hang onto pucks and play hard down low. The one-time scoring chances were gobbled up by Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, including a couple of shots by Jake Guentzel which Howard didn’t see.
The damning statistic: The Penguins had just one rebound chance and it was from Jack Johnson.
“Give their top line credit, they played very well for them, but I don’t think we were as good as we needed to be as a team,” head coach Mike Sullivan said.