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Penguins Room, Sour Faces: ‘We Found a Way to Lose’ (AGAIN)



Pittsburgh Penguins locker room, Bryan Rust

The Pittsburgh Penguins again had victory within their grasp. A great first period, including a 19-7 shot advantage and a 7-1 high-danger scoring chance lead, buoyed hopes their struggles would end and they could beat the New York Islanders, one of several Metro Division teams to bedevil them this season.

It was not to be. Again.

The Islanders rallied for a pair of third-period goals before scoring an empty-netter and beat the Penguins, 4-2, at PPG Paints Arena.

The Penguins are now out of a playoff spot.

Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin was extraordinary. His diving stick save on Penguins defenseman Kris Letang late in the second period will fill highlights tonight.

And the Penguins’ mistakes multiplied.

Very good goaltending by Tristan Jarry softened. Jarry yielded a one he should have stopped midway through the third period, and moments later, his turnover became the Islanders’ game-winning goal.

“I thought he was pretty solid most of the night. When he’s at his best, he probably doesn’t give up those the goals late,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “But to his defense, he hasn’t played in a while and so we’re trying to we’re trying to get him back in game shape.”

Defenseman P.O Joseph sat in his locker stall, alternating between burying his head in his hands and an agonizing look. It was his turnover that led to the tying goal in the third period, even though it was a soft goal.

If looks could kill, Bryan Rust would be held without bail.

Evgeni Malkin said the right things, but his body language and tone screamed the negatives.

“We know we need to win. We start a little bit nervously,” Malkin said. “But we change (with the lead). We should play (the) same, whether we’re leading by two goals or one.”

The Pittsburgh Penguins are 1-6-3 against the top four teams in the Metro Division, which now include the New York Islanders. The Penguins trail the Islanders by two points for the top wild-card and the Florida Panthers by one point for the second.

The Penguins have four games in hand on both, but they’ll have to win some games to surpass either.

You can view all of the Penguins locker room videos from Monday, including Evgeni Malkin, on the National Hockey Now YouTube page.

Pittsburgh Penguins Locker Room

A miscommunication. That’s what led to the Islanders’ game-winning goal as two New York forecheckers chased the puck into the zone, and Jarry played it directly to Zach Parise.

Parise put the puck back to the net, and Penguins-killer Anders Lee netted the GWG.

Jarry missed 16 of the previous 18 games and was very good … until perhaps wearing down in the third. Both Sullivan and Jarry alluded to that.

Kris Letang

The Pittsburgh Penguins have lost three games in a row and four of their past five.

They are 0-6-3 in their past nine games inside the Metropolitan Division and, at least for the moment, they are outside of the Eastern Conference playoff field.

Clearly, they do not have much to feel good about, especially after failing to hold a third-period lead for the second time in four days against the New York Islanders.

Nonetheless, Kris Letang said the Penguins “have no choice” but to believe in their teammates.

“You have to believe in the group we have,” he said. “We have a group with experience. Guys who want to win. Guys who know how to find ways to win. You just stick with it, and eventually, we’ll get out of this.”

The Penguins engaged in a rare 10-man skirmish with the Islanders late in the second period that ended with several of the Penguins’ most prominent players, including Letang, Malkin and Jake Guentzel in the penalty box, while several of the Islanders who were penalized have considerably lower profiles.

“You don’t like the tradeoff, because some of our best players went into the box,” Letang said. “But at the end of the day, you can see it both ways. … It’s part of the game. It shouldn’t affect your mindset afterward.”

Bryan Rust

Practically the only thing that the Penguins don’t seem to have a problem with lately is finding ways to lose.

They’ve gotten awfully good at that.

Much better than they would ever care to.

And while there is no simple solution to the issues with their game — if there were, it would have been put in place long ago — Bryan Rust suggested that it is up to each individual to get his game to the level needed to get the Penguins’ season back on track.

“You just have to find it within yourself,” he said. “Everybody knows what they bring to this team. Everybody knows their strengths and their weaknesses. Everybody just has to focus on bringing their game.”


Mike Sullivan:

It’s only about four minutes, and it’s probably the video you’ll need to watch. Sullivan was defiant in the face of his team’s struggles, while acknowledging what we saw. The Penguins’ ongoing struggle to hold leads, the goaltending was (perhaps understandably) shaky later in the game, and they lost again.

“It was a similar circumstance, I think, to the way the game was played on Long Island (Friday),” Sullivan said. “Instead of finding a way to win, we found a way to lose. We made a couple of mistakes and ended up on the back of our net.”


*Dave Molinari contributed to this report.