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Penguins Room: Malkin Says ‘Fans Hate Us,’ Sullivan Has Postgame Talk

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Evgeni Malkin

The Pittsburgh Penguins were cruising towards an easy win. Kasperi Kapanen had a pair of assists in the first period. Jeff Carter and Jason Zucker scored power-play goals, and the Penguins were cruising with a 4-0 lead over the Detroit Red Wings at PPG Paints Arena.

And then they weren’t.

Then it was 4-1.

4-2.

Then they were hanging on after yielding a late third-period goal. Then they were tied after giving up a late third-period power-play goal.

And then … they lost in OT. It was their sixth loss in eight OT games this season, but that wasn’t the focus. The focus was the Penguins’ disappearance after the first period, which allowed Detroit to rally for overtime. The focus was the mental mistakes, turnovers, and lax coverages.

The focus was the long list of things the Penguins didn’t do after the first period.

Mike Sullivan:

Coach Mike Sullivan, who delivered a curt 89-second postgame presser on Tuesday after the Penguins 5-1 loss to the New York Islanders, was in no better mood on Wednesday.

Evgeni Malkin delivered a few headline quotes following the loss and admitted Sullivan talked to the room for what Malkin believed was 10 minutes. It probably wasn’t a pep talk.

“We just didn’t play the game the right way. I mean, it’s as simple as that,” Sullivan said. “We didn’t play the game the right way. We didn’t manage the game. We didn’t manage the puck. We’re not playing a collective game right now. The game’s too difficult if you don’t play in a five-man unit out there. And for whatever reason, in the last few games, we’re disconnected. And that’s our challenge is to fix it.”

Sullivan rejected the term “issues” when but did say the Penguins have challenges they must overcome.

 

Evgeni Malkin:

“The fans hate us right now,” Malkin said. “We can’t (not) play for 40 minutes in the second and third periods. We led 4-0, we tried to score more … We need to understand it’s not over. We can’t play just 20 minutes.”

When you want unvarnished answers and a stiff version of the truth, talk to Malkin. Malkin laid bare the Pittsburgh Penguins’ challenges and what they didn’t do on Wednesday night.

The Penguins got a lead and got greedy. Malkin seemed to say everyone felt sated and implied the team wanted to pad their stats with easy points.

“We stopped playing,” Malkin began. “Everybody had a goal and an assist. (We tried) to score four more goals, thinking it was an easy game tonight.”

 

Casey DeSmith:

DeSmith has been the unfortunate recipient of some tough draws. He’s been a goalie on the back side of every back-to-back when the older Penguins are notoriously bad.

Even though things started well, and DeSmith made a few tough saves, Detroit kept playing while the Penguins did not.

Yeah, definitely a sense of — we’re certainly not satisfied with this,” DeSmith said. “We want to get things fixed. We’re going to watch film tomorrow, practice, and, yeah, work on it.”

 

The Penguins are still scheduled to have the rare practice after back-to-back games. Given the back-to-back losses (even if one was in overtime), practice is unlikely to be canceled.

The Pittsbugh Penguins were outshot 46-31, meaning they allowed 89 shots and 10 goals in the last two games. Uncharacteristically, Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel were a minus-3.

Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.