(UPDATED) Penguins Room: Zucker Remorse, Bobrovsky Calls it Dirty
SUNRISE, Fla. — The Pittsburgh Penguins couldn’t get it together, and the game fell into chaos in the third period as the Florida Panthers pulled to within three points of the Penguins in the wild-card race with a 4-1 win at FLA Live Arena Saturday.
The Penguins have two games in hand.
It was a bad night from the start. The team had energy, but couldn’t get it together to sustain pressure on the Panthers and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
The score was out of reach, and the game got out of hand in the third.
“It’s tough in that scenario. Obviously, you’re down, 4-1, with not a lot of time left,” Jason Zucker said. “And you want to stand up for one another, that’s for sure.”
Marcus Pettersson and Mathew Tkachuk were given 10-minute misconduct penalties in the final minutes. Pettersson was angrily in the middle of a couple of scrums.
The Penguins’ only goal was a 5v3 beauty by Kris Letang in the second period.
The loss stung the Penguins in the standings, though the room was buoyed by a four-game winning streak. The mood seemed to be a mix of disappointment and optimism about what is to come.
“We didn’t start the game very well. They came out, and they were the more urgent team early on,” said Jeff Petry. “For us, it was trying to match that, and I think coming down the stretch, we need to be able to set the tone in the game.”
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Zucker is usually at the root of the opponent’s anger and ill feelings. That was no different Saturday. He lit the wick when he collided with Bobrovsky in the third period.
That set off something close to a line brawl, and officials needed a few minutes to separate the bodies from the pile and untangle arms wrapped around heads.
It was a hard collision that separated Bobrovsky and his mask. Zucker seemed to feel bad about the collision.
“Accidental play, obviously,” he said. “It’s not something I do on a regular basis, as you guys know. I pushed the puck past Ekblad there and was trying to make a play,” Zucker said. “He came out and played the puck. I was in a position that the way (Aaron) Ekblad kind of pushed me — I was on one leg …”
However, Bobrovsky had a different perspective.
”I thought he threw the elbow on purpose, and I didn’t like it,” he said. “I thought it was a dirty play.”
Here’s the story from the other side — the Florida Panthers room.
You can see Zucker’s nose must have stopped a fist or stick or elbow, or all of the above. It was swollen and cut:
DeSmith was pretty good. He stopped 38 of 42 shots and kept the Penguins in the game despite their disjointed effort.
We’ll skip past the game details for the goalie. He was the victim of defensive gaffes and wide-open looks. To his credit, he was ready to provide hockey fans with the rarest and most exciting of highlights — a goalie fight.
As the melee unfolded after Zucker’s collision with Bobrovsky, the Florida goalie got in a few licks on Penguins players. DeSmith began skating toward the blue line.
It was almost go-time.
“Yeah. I mean, if (Bobrovsky) kept going at our players, I was probably going to try and go down, but the ref got him out of there, and the ref told me to stay,” said DeSmith. “So, I didn’t have to head down there.”
No, DeSmith has never before dropped the mitt.
The Penguins coach was not terse, but there was a little anger at his team’s performance. He was blunt. The Pittsburgh Penguins did not play well enough. He didn’t sugarcoat it or explain it away.
However, regarding the penalty-kill, Sullivan looked forward rather than back. Make no mistake, it’s been bad.
The NHL trade deadline brought PK specialist Nick Bonino and forward Mikael Granlund, who are just learning the Penguins’ PK system and schemes.
Those a little different than they used to be, and Sullivan alluded to getting them up to speed before we judge the penalty-kill.