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Penguins Room: Eller’s Long Silence, Nedeljkovic ‘I (Soiled) the Bed’



Pittsburgh Penguins, Lars Eller

It was a stinging loss that will hasten decisions and the finality of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins earned a point in a 5-4 overtime loss to their rival New York Islanders but lost even more ground in the playoff race.

They have less than 30 games to go, only a couple of weeks before the March 8 NHL trade deadline, and trail the playoff spots by margins that exceed their games in hand.

Read More: Penguins Report Card, Malkin Rises, Pens’ Season Sinking Fast

Even if they could win all of their games in hand, they would still be several points short. Not that winning several games in a row seems a remote possibility for a team that is 1-4-1 in the six most important games of the season that was going to determine their fate.

Centers Evgeni Malkin and Lars Eller had an inspired third period. Eller, with rookie Valtteri Puustinen, created energy and pressure. Puustinen scored a goal when he chipped a puck past Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin from close range. Eller and Puustinen amplified the Penguins’ forecheck and put several pucks in the crease, leading the Penguins’ comeback from 3-1 and 4-2 deficits.

“We’ve got to keep the faith and belief. It’s tough right now when you only get one point,” Eller said. “But we showed we have no quit in us, regardless of how things went during the game. And that’s going to be important going forward.”

However, the Penguins lost. Again.

Eller could only shake his head when asked about the effort and performance that led to the deficits. Long silences followed as he tried to put into words the Penguins’ poor effort in the first two periods before the comeback.


Alex Nedeljkovic

The Penguins goalie stopped 28 of 33 shots. He wasn’t great, but he wasn’t bad. However, like much of the room after the game, the goalie was dejected.

Nedeljkovic blamed himself for the Penguins loss to the Islanders.

“We deserved two points. I sh-t the bed,” he said.


Coach Mike Sullivan

With the Pittsburgh Penguins season slipping into the beautiful oblivion, Sullivan spun positive. He was not the surly Sullivan that follows many losses, but the cheerleader for his team.

There’s no criticism here of Sullivan’s outlook. He spun positively on the Penguins’ effort and the power play.

“A couple of the goals were flukey. I just thought our guys kept competing,” Sullivan said. “So, from that standpoint, I thought there was a lot to like about our team game tonight. I thought our guys had an inspired effort. So, we didn’t get the result. Obviously, that’s disappointing, but I think there’s a lot of good things we can take from this one.”