Penguins Room: Team Encouraged, Rust Rips His Missed Chance, ‘Pathetic’
DALLAS — The Pittsburgh Penguins had more than 40 shots for the third straight game, but for the second time in three games, lost in regulation. The Penguins deservedly liked their game and felt they deserved better than the 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.
No one could feel too bad about accruing 40 scoring chances (according to NaturalStatTrick.com) and earning the better of play for long stretches despite the difficult schedule. Sidney Crosby scored his first goal in Dallas, and P.O Joseph sparked a third period push with a pretty goal later in the third.
As Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith noted, it was not an easy back-to-back coming from Denver to Dallas for their third game in four nights, but he was proud of the group.
“I think everyone on the roster should feel great about how they played tonight. The effort, the energy. That’s hard to do. You know, it’s not an easy back-to-back,” said DeSmith. “It’s a long flight got in late last night was obviously a great effort as well, and I thought we really brought it tonight.”
Indeed, the high points well outnumbered the lows. The mistakes were few, though with a patchwork defensive crew and tired bodies, the Penguins made a couple of big ones, including allowing Roope Hintz to sprint past everyone for a breakaway and Dallas’ first goal and an ill-advised pinch later in the third which yielded the game-winner.
Yet even coach Mike Sullivan could not be too disappointed.
“There was a lot to like about our overall game on both sides of the puck,” said Sullivan. “We’ve just got to continue to keep fighting here. You know, there’s a fine line between winning and losing. We didn’t get it tonight, but in my mind, we played well enough to win.”
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DeSmith has been very good in March. A couple of his appearances have been in relief of starter Tristan Jarry, but his recent numbers are healthy.
DeSmith has a 2.28 GAA and a .923 save percentage, with a 2-3-0 record in March.
“The more you play, the more comfortable you become in the net,” DeSmith said. “it’s just nice getting the game action and the experience. The level of comfort that comes with it is something I’ve been enjoying this year — getting in there more than usual.”
The stats were good. Sidney Crosby was dominant, and Rust was a big part of the line’s overwhelming number of scoring chances (14). Rust himself had four high-danger scoring chances.
Yet Rust’s season of offensive struggles continued Thursday when Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger denied Rust what would have been the go-ahead goal in the third period. He has only 16 goals and 40 points in 71 games.
Rust was alone in front of the net. He swept around Oettinger with a backhand deke, but the Dallas goalie made a pad save.
The great chance and lack of goal upset Rust.
“That’s pathetic. I’ve got to score that,” Rust said flatly.
The Penguins coach can be short or surly after losses. He wears the Penguins’ performances on his sleeve, but Thursday, he could not be too disappointed, even if the result was a regulation loss.
The Penguins remained one point ahead of the Florida Panthers for the second wild-card spot, and the coach recognized the team’s game included many things that they did right.
It’s been three consecutive games that the Penguins overwhelmed opponents with shots and chances since being blown out by the New York Rangers last Sunday, 6-0, at Madison Square Garden. Perhaps that was the wake-up call.
“I’m sure to a certain extent it’s a wake-up call just because it was a humbling experience that none of us like to go through, Sullivan said. “So it’s a good one. And I think that the team has certainly responded.fe Once again, that’s just a testament to the leadership that we have in that room. These guys lead the charge for us.”