WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The Pittsburgh Penguins stockpiled scoring chances and puck possession but scored only one goal. They also gave up as many scoring chances as they earned, and coach Mike Sullivan had no desire to offer praise for the things done well.
Not when so many things were not done well.
Sullivan slammed his team’s desire to trade chances and their motivation in the first period after a 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at Canada Life Centre Saturday. The loss was the Penguins’ second straight and second one-goal loss in as many nights. The Penguins were flat at the start and yielded a spree of odd-man rushes.
“I don’t think the start was nearly — We didn’t establish the game we wanted to play. We gave up I don’t know how many odd-man rushes in the first period,” said Sullivan. “We were careless with the puck. You know, it’s not a game that’s conducive to winning.”
It felt like the Penguins coach left a lot unsaid, but the tone underscored the lack of positives or optimism from behind the Penguins’ bench. There was a hint of being fed up with a team that still defaults to trading punches rather than responsible hockey. There was an unsaid disgust of repeat mistakes that spotted Winnipeg a treasure trove of odd-man rushes.
Sullivan disavowed the word frustration as “a useless emotion to me,” but there was an intensity in the Penguins coach’s words. The team’s poor start further chaffed the coach.
“We’re coming into a building and playing against a team that we knew was going to play with urgency. They had dropped five games in a row,” said Sullivan. “And those of us who have been in the league long enough understand what that circumstance is like.”
Sullivan called out the lack of secondary help and
Penguins center Lars Eller also had no desire to take positives from the scoring chances earned. Pittsburgh Hockey Now got a few moments with Eller, one-on-one. Despite an invitation to praise the offensive process, Eller shut that down immediately.
His frustration was evident as he shook his head to the negative regarding the positives he might take.
“No. I think defensively, we were giving up odd-man rushes. I don’t know how many, I lost count of how many great chances they got,” Eller told PHN. “It could have been 6-1 easily if (Tristan Jarry) didn’t make a lot of big saves. So I don’t think it was good at all.”
Through all of the frustration, the Penguins allowed only two goals. Jarry was solid in the net. The game-winner was a fluky bounce off the back wall to Nino Neiderrieter. The goal held up for nearly 35 minutes.
Jarry described how the play went down.
“Unlucky. I think if you shot that 100 times, I think it might happen three or four (times),” said Jarry.