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Penguins Wake Up Too Late, Buffalo Buries Pens 5-2

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are assuredly not on a hot streak. After pasting the seemingly helpless Toronto Maple Leafs last Tuesday, the Penguins turned in five straight ugly periods, including a 4-0 shutout in Toronto on Thursday and another gumper Saturday afternoon against the Buffalo Sabres. The Penguins committed a couple of turnovers on the first shift, and things didn’t get better until the game was mostly decided in the third period.

Buffalo stampeded the Penguins 5-2 at PPG Paints Arena.

In the first period, the Penguins continued their dreary play from Thursday. Actually, they may have further lowered the bar. In the first 14 seconds of the game, Penguins center Evgeni Malkin committed two turnovers, and Zemgus Girgensons (11) quickly snapped the puck past Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry from the slot.

“We missed the first period. We’re not ready,” Malkin said. “We’ve not played great the last five, ten games. The same mistakes.”

The fun didn’t’ stop for Buffalo in the first 10 minutes. The Penguins second line with Malkin and second pair with Justin Schultz and Marcus Pettersson were on the wrong side of several scoring chances.

However, it was Penguins top-defenseman Kris Letang, who coughed up the next goal. Six minutes into the game, Letang’s short pass ahead to Sidney Crosby was instead taken by Buffalo forward Sam Reinhart, who stormed the Penguins net unabated.

Reinhart (22) went short side, top-shelf, and the Penguins trailed 2-0.

“They put the puck in deep. They had a good forecheck, and they were able to get pucks back,” Jarry said. “It was a quick pass to the middle and they were able to put it in the net.”

Midway through the first period, the Penguins earned a timeout. But first, Malkin took a bad slashing penalty, and Buffalo scored a power-play goal. The Penguins PK left Jack Eichel alone in the right-wing circle. Eichel. Really.

Eichel took a couple of strides and snapped it past Jarry for a 3-0 Buffalo lead. Sullivan called timeout, and while his words couldn’t be heard, his animated demeanor conveyed the point.

Midway through the second period, the Pittsburgh Penguins finally found a jolt of energy. The game began to turn, and Evgeni Malkin made one of those plays that only elite players make.

After being denied a pass along the offensive blue line, Malkin (19) stole the puck from the Buffalo defenders, swept across the slot and whipped it past Buffalo goalie Carter Hutton.

The third period marked the Penguins turnaround with real energy, but it was too late. Rookie Sam Lafferty didn’t tightly cover Jeff Skinner (12), who deflected a pass through Jarry’s five-hole. Buffalo reestablished the three-goal lead.

“You have to play hard but you have to play smart,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. “I thought our team worked hard to get back in the game but we didn’t play smart.”

Later in the third, after yet another Penguins penalty, Eichel scored yet another power-play goal. Eichel had time and space from the right-wing circle, again, and blistered it past Jarry.

Jarry stopped 21 of 26 shots. Hutton was solid when tasked. He stopped 40 of 42 shots.

Malkin (20) added a garbage-time goal from a scrum in front

The Pittsburgh Penguins have lost two in a row and now trail the Washington Capitals in the Metro Division. Those two teams will meet Sunday at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., on Sunday afternoon.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Rhode Pip
Rhode Pip
2 years ago

Did they really wake up? Outscored 11-2 in last 7+ periods. Marino and Dumo need to be back soon.

Tony G.
Tony G.
2 years ago

Would have pulled Jarry after the second goal. The kid wasn’t ready. Didn’t challenge shooters and gave up too much room on the stick side again. Gets beat on too many unscreened outside shots.

DeSmith has played very well at WBS lately. Why not call him up and send Jarry there to work on his game for a while?

Jack McCrory
Jack McCrory
2 years ago

THEY better find a couple NHL quality defenseman in the next 48 hours or it’s going to be early play off exit again. 58 is ridiculous out there with the turnovers and blown coverage. All star captain RIGHT. Maybe he needs to watch from the press box for a couple games

E.J.
E.J.
2 years ago

GMJR has two days to fix this mess. #Waiting

David Heyl
David Heyl
2 years ago

This team has not played the same since Crosby returned. Too many behind the back passes by less talented players.

Da Binker
Da Binker
2 years ago

Hey, Tony G, Jarry doesn’t have to work on his game. There’s no motivation to do it.

Jarry knows that he’s the fan and media darling. When he loses, it’s because of bad defense/coaching/luck. When the other goalie loses, it’s because he sucks. Jarry also knows that he’ll be the No. 1 next season because he’s the much cheaper option and the other guy won’t be around. So why break a sweat?

King Penguin
King Penguin
2 years ago

This looks like the same bunch of losers who got their asses swept in the first round last postseason — dumb, soft and unmotivated.

Randy894
Randy894
2 years ago

Wow, the dumbest hockey fans ever. A friend of mine from Toronto tells me all the time, why does the fan base whine when you have had incredible talent since 1984, my reply, they are morons, hockey is too advanced for them.

Jarry-All Star, maybe we should bring back Gary Inness, or Patrick Lalime. Or maybe exhume Caesar Maniago.

Tony G.
Tony G.
2 years ago

We don’t need you’re negativism around here.

Jarry is a first-ballot of Hall of Famer.

Got that, pal?