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Penguins ‘Missed a Big Chance’; This Defeat Stings (+)

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Kris Letang

It was, perhaps, fitting that the Pittsburgh Penguins’ bid for their 17th consecutive playoff appearance likely was short-circuited by an opponent nestled at the bottom of the overall standings.

Their 5-2 loss to Chicago at PPG Paints Arena Tuesday night was just the latest in a series of defeats in 2022-23 by teams that won’t get anything more than a spot in the draft lottery out of this season.

And while the Penguins also struggled against the top teams in the Eastern Conference — they were winless against Boston, New Jersey and Carolina, their three possible Round 1 opponents had they beaten the Blackhawks — it’s the losses to inferior opponents that sting the most.

“We’ve shown against really good opponents that we can play and put a 60-minute game (together) and play really well,” Kris Letang said. “And we have chances against teams that aren’t necessarily in a playoff spot or have nothing to lose, and we don’t bring the same kind of demeanor, or we don’t play a full 60 minutes.”

Although several players, including Sidney Crosby, disputed a suggestion that the Penguins didn’t play with the urgency their situation demanded, they did launch 40 shots at Chicago goalie Petr Mrazek, 31 of those during the final two periods.

“In the third period, we kind of got frustrated,” Letang said. “And kind of imploded. … It’s a tough one to swallow.”

The Penguins locker room raw videos below are revealing.

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