Another home game versus a stingy defensive (and good) Western Conference team for the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight, for the third time in a row. Unfortunately the similarities wouldn't end there.
Another game the power play failed them. Another time surrendering the first goal. Another injury. And, for the third game in a row, another one goal loss.
You can start anywhere from the above. The Pens did battle back out of a 2-0 hole, and they did show a little more compete and intensity than past games, but again, they just couldn't seem to find that extra gear.
"Special teams is the key to every game," Dan Bylsma said. "And if you're minus on a different side [of the result]. And we've been minus many times here in the last handful of games."
Midway through the third, it appeared the Pens had tied it. Brandon Sutter kept playing the puck near the goal crease as Drew Doughty repeatedly cross-checked him in the back. Sutter fell and slid into goalie Martin Jones and the puck slid into the net. The refs would confer and decide goaltender interference, and just like that the best chance was gone.
Because as mentioned the Penguins had seven power play chances, which added up to a total of 13:00 minutes. They didn't score and other than the Sutter goal-not-a-goal, they weren't really even close to scoring.
For their part, the Kings showed once again they were comfortable in a close, low-scoring, tight game. The Penguins may not have gotten the result of a win, but they at least got another taste of "the right way to play". Hopefully that carries over.
"We competed hard tonight," Sidney Crosby said, when asked about how to keep from getting frustrated. "If we compete like that and generate the chances we do, we should [eventually] get a better result.
If anything, there will only be one more Western conference team coming into town this regular season, giving the Penguins a chance to break out of the doldrums that has been this past week.