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Penguins Wrap: Their Week Starts Badly, Finishes Worse



Pittsburgh Penguins, Tristan Jarry

The Pittsburgh Penguins won’t have another game until Feb. 7, when Colorado visits PPG Paints Arena, so that means they won’t have to deal with a frustrating result for more than a week.

Which will be the longest such stretch for them in quite a while.

Whether their bye week and the NHL’s all-star break will allow them to execute a reset of sorts remains to be seen, but there’s no question they could use one after an up-and-down — mostly down — series of games during the past week.

Here’s a look back at the six days leading up to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ extended time off:


Brian Dumoulin’s season got off to a rough start, but his play has been noticeably better in recent weeks. (+)


The Penguins turn in a performance they’d probably rather forget, but still pick up two points when Kris Letang, playing for the first since since Dec. 28, caps a four-point night by scoring the game-winning goal in a 7-6 victory over Florida.

Letang says he just tried to “adapt to the flow of the game.” In reality, he dictated it a lot of the time.

The Penguins get an unpleasant surprise as game-time approaches, when they learn that No. 1 goalie Tristan Jarry, who had been scheduled to start against the Panthers, will have to sit out the game because of an unspecified injury.

The first hint that Letang might be ready to rejoin the lineup comes at the game-day skate, when he is paired with Brian Dumoulin and pronounced to be a “game-time decision.”

Letang was activated from the Long-Term Injured list a few hours before the game, one of several personnel moves.


The Penguins announce that Jarry will be out until after the all-star break because of his injury.

The fourth line had a strong showing against the Panthers, highlighted by goals by Drew O’Connor and Danton Heinen.


The Penguins, who are 3-8 in games decided in overtime this season, made it through the extra period in Washington unscathed, only to lose to the Capitals in a shootout.

Mike Sullivan believes the Penguins left Capital One Arena with a “hard-fought point,” but the reality is that they probably didn’t deserve to pick up a second one.

Casey DeSmith rebounded from his subpar showing against Florida, stopping 43 of 45 shots in regulation and overtime before being beaten twice in the shootout.

Teddy Blueger and DeSmith had a brief run-in during the game-day skate. Blueger called it “just messing around.”

This is a rarity, but the Penguins appear to be in real danger of missing the Stanley Cup playoffs, in large part because of their lackluster defensive work.


The Pittsburgh Penguins have played some pretty good hockey lately, but pretty good won’t necessarily be good enough to get them into the playoffs.


The Penguins had a chance to go into the break off a victory over one of the NHL’s weakest teams. They squandered it, thanks largely to some of their worst defensive work of the season.

Mike Sullivan said that correcting the Penguins’ defensive problems “starts with me,” but he’s not the who’s routinely making defensive-coverage mistakes that lead to pucks ending up in the Penguins’ net. (+)

Management kept the Penguins’ core together last summer because it wanted to give those guys a chance to win another Stanley Cup. Now, it’s becoming clear to those players that they’re not guaranteed to even qualify for a spot in the postseason.