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Penguins Wrap: With This Team, It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

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Celebration after OT victory against CBJ 3/7/23

No lead is safe when the Pittsburgh Penguins are playing.

Not when they have it, as was shown again Thursday, as the New York Islanders overcome a two-goal deficit during the final six minutes of regulation en route to a 4-3 overtime victory at PPG Paints Arena.

Nor when the Penguins’ opponents are the ones who are in front. That had been shown two days earlier, when they spotted Columbus a 4-0 advantage before running off five unanswered goals to claim two points.

Of course, the Penguins did win weekend games from Philadelphia and the New York Rangers without ever trailing, although New York overcame a pair of one-goal deficits before the Penguins secured the victory that gave them sole possession of the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Here’s a look back at a potentially pivotal stretch in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season:

Sunday (March 5)

No one disputes that Ron Hextall has made some mistakes during his two-plus years as GM of the Penguins, but there’s one that stands above all the others. (+)

Monday

Jake Guentzel and Mikael Granlund are absent from practice, while Ryan Poehling made a somewhat surprising appearance. Turns out Guentzel was given a “maintenance day,” while Granlund was ill.

Dmitry Kulikov participates in his first practice since the Penguins acquired him from Anaheim at the trade deadline, and gets a strong endorsement from Mike Sullivan. (+)

Tuesday

The Penguins are heading for their most embarrassing defeat of the season after spotting Columbus a 4-0 lead … until they run off five unanswered goals, capped by Sidney Crosby’s overtime game-winner,

Kris Letang says there is one key ingredient in their recent run of success that was missing earlier in the season.

An early assessment of what Mikael Granlund can contribute to the Penguins. (+)

With Bryan Rust unavailable because his wife had given birth, the Penguins recall forward Alex Nylander from their farm team in Wilkes-Barre and put Ryan Poehling on the Long-Term Injured list.

Turns out Rust isn’t the only forward who won’t play against the Blue Jackets, as Mikael Granlund still is too ill to play, forcing the Penguins to dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

Ryan Poehling suffers a setback in his recovery from an unspecified injury.

Wednesday

Alex Nylander made a good first impression in his Penguins debut.

A look back at the Pittsburgh Penguins’ incredible turnaround in the Columbus game. (+)

Mike Sullivan reconfigured his top two defense pairings during the Blue Jackets game, and says there was a pretty simple reason for doing it.

Dmitry Kulikov is new to the Penguins, but not to the kind of wild comeback they made against Columbus.

Bryan Rust and Mikael Granlund rejoin their teammates for practice.

Thursday

The Penguins lost their first three meetings with the New York Islanders. It might be time to try something different.

For the third time in a row against the Islanders, the Pittsburgh Penguins take a lead into the third period … and lose, this time on a Brock Nelson goal in overtime.

The Penguins did a lot of good things against the Islanders, but New York again gets a victory by being patient and opportunistic. (+)

Mike Sullivan states the obvious: The Penguins’ loss to the Islanders is “tough to swallow.”

The Penguins liked what they saw from Alex Nylander in his first game with them, but return him to their farm team after it’s clear Bryan Rust and Mikael Granlund will be available for the Islanders game.

Friday

Here’s a rundown on how and when the Penguins can bring Alex Nylander back from the American Hockey League.

Et voilaAlex Nylander is recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on an emergency basis for the second time this week.

Saturday

The Penguins again take a lead into the third period and this time, they hold onto it.

The Pittsburgh Penguins earned two points against Philadelphia, but deserve a lukewarm review for their overall showing.

Casey DeSmith allows only one goal against the Flyers, but volunteers that it was a “horrible” one.

Nick Bonino is listed as week-to-week after suffering a lacerated kidney in the Islanders game.

A postgame video Q&A touches on everything from Alex Nylander’s play to the quality of the Penguins’ performance against Philadelphia.

Sunday

The Pittsburgh Penguins cap a productive weekend by beating the New York Rangers, 3-2, on Kris Letang’s overtime goal.

The Penguins picked up their victory in a playoff-style game. (+)

Tristan Jarry has a pretty good explanation for why the Penguins seemed a bit more desperate than New York.

A postgame video Q&A discusses Tristan Jarry’s play, the future configuration of the Penguins’ lines and the Penguins’ chances of retaining Jason Zucker after his contract expires this summer.