LAS VEGAS — The Pittsburgh Penguins have not won since Dec. 20. They are 0-4-2 in their last six, but the dispassionate manner in which the Penguins have lost. They have lost leads because they stopped playing or made mistakes. They have been skated out of the building with lethargic efforts against their division rivals, the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils.
Thursday night in Las Vegas, the Penguins flatlined in the first period against the Golden Knights and trailed 3-0 before hitting the first intermission. The Penguins were never within striking distance and lost 5-2 at T-Mobile Arena.
“It’s concerning that we had the first period that we had. We’re a better hockey team than that,” said a disappointed coach Mike Sullivan. “We showed it in the second and third, but we didn’t give ourselves a chance because we didn’t play well enough in the first.”
Frustration is undoubtedly creeping into the Penguins’ locker room. Jake Guentzel, whose locker room chat is below, spoke barely above a whisper.
However, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby gave a captain’s speech when asked about frustration in the locker room. He looked forward with optimism as much as he challenged his teammates to build off the anger.
“We can hang our heads, get frustrated, or we can do something about it,” Crosby said. “So I like to think we’re going to do something about it. It’s not easy. It’s a challenge. We got some injuries, and we’re banged up. It’s not going our way, but if we handle it the right way, it can be something that probably goes a long way in helping us when we look back. So we’ve got to find a way to get out of it.”
Sullivan stopped practice on Wednesday to admonish his team for a “lethargic” effort and “going through the motions.” However, his team began the game in the same disinterested way on Thursday.
“It’s unacceptable. I think we know we need to be better from the drop of the puck next time,” Jake Guentzel said.
Guentzel spoke softly and quickly, obviously disheartened by another loss and his eighth straight game without a goal.
Coach Mike Sullivan:
The million-dollar question: Is there cause for concern after yet another loss?
Sullivan is not usually happy after losses. He carries his emotions on his sleeve, but recently he has faced the same questions about what his team didn’t do.
“I’m sure everybody involved is frustrated because our expectations are high. If you don’t live up to that, it’s without a doubt one of the emotions to deal with, but we can’t allow frustration to get in the way of our ability to perform.”