Penguins Grades: ‘Really a Shame,’ Warrior Pens Missing One Thing (+)
DALLAS — The Pittsburgh Penguins played their second game in two nights in two time zones and the fourth game in seven days across four cities in three time zones. A couple of forwards played through injuries or illnesses significant enough that the Penguins made an emergency recall Thursday afternoon before undoing it just before puck drop when Filip Hallander wasn’t going to arrive in time.
The warrior Penguins didn’t lack effort or opportunity with a complete game against the Dallas Stars. Speed rushes. Net-front traffic and puck possession in the offensive zone.
A couple of late Dallas power plays (one call legit, one perhaps not) and a pressing need for offense sunk the Penguins, but not without a fight. Dallas beat the Penguins 3-2 at American Airlines, and the Penguins narrowly missed a chance to go three points ahead of the Florida Panthers for the second wild card.
Here is Dave Molinari’s Penguins’ recap.
Trailing 3-1, P.O Joseph asserted himself by jumping forward off the blue line into the slot and launching a top-shelf wrister with six minutes remaining. But that was all.
The Penguins couldn’t crack Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger, and a great effort was for naught.
“It’s a long flight. We got in late last night. That was obviously a great effort, and I thought we really brought it tonight,” said goalie Casey DeSmith. “And it’s really a shame that we didn’t get any points out of it because I think everyone in this locker room deserves a point.”
Jason Zucker appeared to be slightly hobbled throughout the game but still managed three shots on goal and four more attempts. The Penguins pressed Dallas through the second period but couldn’t finish their second chances despite prolonged puck possession.
Zucker also had a little hitch in his giddyup after the game. He visibly played through significant pain Thursday.
If you’re waiting for over-the-top criticism, wailing, or gnashing of the teeth because of a regulation loss, you’ve probably come to the wrong place. It was a worthy Penguins effort, their third in a row.
“I think that the group feels good about our game. I thought we played well enough to win,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “We didn’t win. The other team is a good team as well … We’ve just got to keep fighting here. 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.”
But they continue to miss one thing…