BOSTON — The Pittsburgh Penguins don’t have a single victory in their past five games, and the final scores aren’t the only troubling thing about that streak.
They have failed to protect late leads in several of those games, including their 2-1 loss to Boston at Fenway Park in the NHL’s Winter Classic game Monday.
“We have to find a way to close out games,” Sidney Crosby said. “We had the four-goal lead there (against Detroit last Wednesday) and have a lead going into the third period (against Boston). At least get a point.
“When you have a lead in the third like that, it’s not easy when you give up the lead, but you have to find a way to gather at least a point out of it and easy what happens in overtime. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that, and we have to learn from it. We did some good things tonight, so we have to try to build off that.”
Despite his disappointment, Crosby acknowledged that the Penguins played a generally sound game,
“Everybody was pretty solid,” he said. “It’s tough that we weren’t able to build on that lead and let them hang around and they capitalized on a couple. … It was a pretty even game all the way through, I thought.”
The Penguins seemed to have a reasonably secure grip on the game after two periods, but things swung decidedly in Boston’s direction during the final 20 minutes.
“I’m not sure (if the game changed then),” Jake Guentzel said. “Maybe the emotions were off a little bit but I think it was a good game, overall. Back and forth. I thought we played well. Just a couple of lapses there. But they’re a good team, too.”
He also praised the work of goalie Casey DeSmith, who was pressed into service after Tristan Jarry was injured in the first period.
“He played amazing,” Guentzel said. “Gave us a chance to win.”
Exasperated as he surely was by having a third-period lead melt into a 2-1 defeat, Mike Sullivan acknowledged that the Pittsburgh Penguins had been pretty solid in all phases of the game, and could have picked up a point or two if a few things had broken their way.
“It was obviously a real competitive hockey game,” he said. “It was a pretty even game. There’s a fine line between winning and losing, and we ended up on the wrong side of it tonight.”
Just how close was it? Well, the Penguins had just a two-shot deficit, 29-27, and come within less than a second of getting No. 28 — and putting the game into overtime. The Penguins got a puck past Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark, but time had expired before the puck got into the net.
“It was such a game of momentum,” Sullivan said. “We had it for stretches, they had it for stretches. I don’t think there were a lot of real high-quality looks on either side. There’s a fine line between winning and losing. It comes down to some subtle details and some timely plays.”