In a serious moment Wednesday night, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby again carried his team as he has done hundreds of times before. There was little doubt after 60 minutes who was the best player on the ice. Even as the situation changed, Crosby and his changing linemates kept the pressure in the offensive zone. The Capitals could not breathe.
The other side of the two-headed monster, Evgeni Malkin showed more frustration as he walloped Washington forward T.J. Oshie with a reverse check to the head. The hit earned Malkin a five-minute major penalty and match penalty. He was not suspended but there were more than a few who expected supplementary discipline.
The Penguins stars are not in sync.
Without Malkin, the Penguins were left short-handed but maintained their offensive push against Washington. Crosby had a game-high eight shots.
“We did a lot of good things and we can build off of that, but we still have to find ways to get points. Or make sure we at least get one in this case,” Crosby said after the game.
Wednesday, Crosby’s line allowed two shots on goal. Yes, just two shots despite seeing action against the Washington scoring line including Niklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. Crosby’s line fired off 16 shots on goal for an astounding 89 percent Corsi rating. Crosby also scored the Penguins only goal–a power-play marker.
Crosby was also on the ice for 13 scoring chances-for and just three against (82 percent). However, a momentary zone coverage lapse after a Penguins line change, which included Crosby in the final 90 seconds led to the Washington game-winning goal.
The Penguins lost four straight before the heartbreaking loss to the Washington Capitals, Wednesday. Now they’ve lost five in a row.
The Penguins were lethargic, disorganized or surprisingly incompetent in those first four games of the losing streak. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan responded with big changes and change in tone. Sullivan separated Malkin and winger Phil Kessel in order to balance the lines.
Team leaders including Matt Cullen and Sullivan spoke about “frustration” getting to the Penguins, recently. Specifically, in how the Penguins were dealing with adversity and missed opportunities.
Perhaps they were speaking directly to Malkin who has appeared frustrated in several games during the streak.
Wednesday night, Malkin missed an open-net chance seconds after Carl Hagelin swatted a bouncing puck toward the open net, as well. The Penguins newly formed line with Hagelin-Malkin-Patric Hornqvist swarmed the Washington zone but could not finish the chance as Malkin smacked the glass with his stick in irritation.
Malkin was ejected in the third period during a Penguins power play. The Penguins were struggling to enter the zone and Malkin vented that frustration with a high hit on Oshie. It was a bad penalty.
Malkin hurt his team.
Something is going wrong with the Penguins and Malkin will have to conquer his frustration or teams will again target him in order to draw penalties. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is also threatening changes.
The Penguins will need both stars on their game, and into the game to end the ugliest skid of Mike Sullivan’s Penguins tenure.
Or things may never be the same again.