EDMONTON, Alberta — The Pittsburgh Penguins cured their poor start ills. However, they traded a good start for terrible second and third periods. The Edmonton Oilers looked like world beaters even without a point from Connor McDavid and took the Penguins to the woodshed, 6-3 at Rogers Place.
The game was a battle of the top lines and top pairings. It was also a game decided by the Penguins’ puck management angels against their inner demons.
Their inner demons won.
The Penguins decidedly lost.
“We got outplayed,” coach Mike Sullivan said before a long pause. “I thought we had a really good start. The first period was really strong. That was an area we knew we had to get better at … We got outplayed from there.”
Get the Penguins postgame here.
Pittsburgh Penguins Takeaways:
1. Turnovers, Turnovers, and More Turnovers
The Penguins’ turnovers were not necessarily born of overwhelming Edmonton pressure, but many inexplicably sloppy passes into shin pads, into coverage, and holding onto the puck longer than necessary.
“Right now, we are (too high risk),” said Sullivan.
” … There’s a certain discipline to manage the puck the right way. One of the easiest ways to beat yourself is to mismanage the puck and give teams easy looks. We’re just not diligent with the puck right now.”
Scorers gave Edmonton 20 takeaways and the Penguins 10 giveaways. That’s 30 pucks given away, 30 plays nullified, and 30 possessions turned over.
Tristan Jarry was little more than a plate spinner trying to stop 47 shots, including 38 in the final two periods.
2. Soft Play
“We just got on our heels. We didn’t forecheck well,” Sidney Crosby said. “We gave them some time and space, and they’re a dangerous team. So you give them time and space, they’re going make plays.”
The Penguins were not a hard team to play against on Monday. After trading chances early in the second period, Edmonton lived on the rush while the Penguins chased the game. The Penguins lacked a gritty or urgent component that tried to slow Edmonton.
Edmonton didn’t have to dump the puck or chase. They had free passes across the blue line into the Penguins’ zone.
2. Letang & Dumoulin
The Edmonton Oilers turned Dumoulin inside out. Hung him out to dry. Then folded him and put him away. It was, perhaps, the worst game Dumoulin has played in a Penguins sweater.
He was walked a few times, including by Evander Kane and Leon Draisaitl.
Kris Letang was uncharacteristically out of position. A few Oilers got behind him, including Zach Hyman, on the first goal.
They were minus-3.
Letang had a 24% shot attempt ratio (Corsi). Dumoulin clocked in at 21%.
3. Fourth Line
Swallowed Hole. For good reasons, the Penguins’ fourth line didn’t get much ice time. They were on the wrong side of the puck early in the game and never recovered.
Ryan Poehling was in single digits until late in the game. He has played well in the first five games, but he was on the ice for just two shot attempts and a staggering 17 against on Monday.
4. Ricard Rakell Rocked PP2
When the Penguins were on their game, way back in the first period, Rickard Rakell ran PP2 with a masterful touch. The Penguins’ second unit accounted for the first Penguins’ goal, as well as crisp, clean puck movement. Rakell and the second unit worked the puck around the zone and back to Rakell, who had clean ice in front of him.
He was able to take a couple of strides forward before snapping a hard shot past goalie Jack Campbell.
5. Petry & Pettersson
We promised not to judge Jeff Petry until December. However, against Montreal and Edmonton, two teams that play fast, Petry was in the penalty box because he was behind the play.
One of those times was behind McDavid (understandable), but Petry interfered with McDavid, sending the star center crashing into the net and boards.
The Penguins need Petry to be in a better position against fast teams. They play a few of them in the Metro Division.