The Pittsburgh Penguins earned a big fat F in the first period Tuesday night against the New York Rangers. While the puck dropped shortly after 7:30 p.m eastern, the Penguins mistook the first period for a warmup session. For the fourth straight game, the Penguins gave their opponent a multiple-goal lead before fighting back. New York was able to keep pace with the Penguins furious comeback and took advantage of a head-scratching turnover by Evgeni Malkin in overtime to beat the Penguins 3-2 in OT at Madison Square Garden.
How ugly was the first period? Do you remember the movie in which Adam Sandler dressed as his twin sister? Yeah, that bad.
The Penguins needed an adjustment period with Sidney Crosby filling the middle of their lineup. Without Crosby, every line except the energy line, once known as the fourth line, had new faces. And Sullivan made a few more adjustments for the third period, too. The late-game line shuffle was more of a fix than a jumpstart.
Jake Guentzel played right-wing later in the game, instead of left-wing as Sullivan separated center Jared McCann and Guentzel because that line was ineffective. Ok, they were brutal. Guentzel was much better with Nick Bjugstad, who was also better off with Guentzel than Sam Lafferty, who was better off with McCann.
The Penguins were never able to claim the middle of the ice as New York was prepared for the Penguins rush. The Blue Shirts are a much better team than last season, and their speed game made the Penguins work. New York wasn’t as physical, but perhaps had a little more offensive talent which showed in a couple of different ways and gave them a few extra opportunities.