Had things broken right for the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday evening, they might have had a grip — albeit, a tenuous one — on a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference playoff field by the end of the night.
That reality took a bit too long to register with them, however.
They spotted Washington a four-goal lead in the opening period at PPG Paints Arena before staging a spirited rally that came up just short in a 4-3 loss to the Capitals.
While it’s hard to say why they sleepwalked through most of the first 20 minutes — it’s not as if they weren’t aware of the standings — once they got past that stumbling start, they turned in a fairly inspired performance.
One that just wasn’t quite good enough to salvage a point or two.
Here are some of the highs and lows from the game: