"Trap games" are dangerous for the very reason that the more talented team might not be totally focused and give the other team a chance to hang in there. And that's pretty much what happened for the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight. Whether it was Evgeni Malkin taking a penalty by knocking away goalie Devan Dubnyk 's stick, or Brandon Sutter taking a bad penalty 200 feet from his net...Both of these mistakes were converted into lat game power play goals for the Oilers, who raised their game late and played well.
"I don't think we matched their desperation," said Sidney Crosby about the third period, following it up with a damming "we don't deserve to win games with the way we played in the 3rd".
Defenseman Rob Scuderi was even more critical, telling the Trib's Josh Yohe: ""If you're going to try and play hockey like the Harlem Globetrotters, you're going to get burned. We continue to make the same mistakes, go for the same highlight reel plays...That might look good on the highlight reels every now and then, but it's not a formula for winning."
Coach Dan Bylsma would add, ""It's a game we let slip away because of the way we played. We let a point go."
And the Penguins definitely did let a point slip away, by virtue of the overtime goal that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored. It was a game Pittsburgh entered the 3rd period leading 2-0, and even after blowing that lead, a power play goal by Kris Letang put them up 3-2 with under 8 minutes to go. That's a game that Pittsburgh needs to sit back on and ride out for a win.
But, if there's a positive, it's that the Pens quite frankly can afford to give up that point in the standings, especially if it helps them takeaway the valuable lesson of focus and playing a better defensive effort. (A lesson this team has seemingly needed to learn multiple times over the past few seasons). Pittsburgh is 8 points up on Boston for the top seed in the East (though Boston does have two games in hand) and the Pens are up a remarkable 16 points on second place in the mediocre Metropolitan Division.
Losing out on the point in the standings won't kill the Pens, but if they don't change their mindset, effort level and focus, the bigger underlying problem might hurt them later on in the season..
Some more thoughts on the game:
- First multi-goal night the PK has allowed since October 12th. The Pens have been great on the kill this season, but played with fire too many times tonight, giving Edmonton's skill players four chances at it.
- Craig Adams was on the ice for 3 of the 4 Edmonton goals (including both while short-handed). He had one bad break when trying to deflect a shot that kicked out right to Taylor Hall for a layup. Some people were taking him to task for it, but it really seemed like more bad luck than anything. Still, Adams hasn't been terribly effective as of late and hopefully can turn his game around sooner than later.
- The Pens bottom six forwards had almost as many combined penalty minutes (4) as they did shots on goal (5). A bottom six forward hasn't scored a goal since before Christmas. The Pens aren't a very deep team, and they aren't getting very many contributions down the lineup.
- To support Scuderi's effort narrative, the Pens only had 8 blocked shots on the night. And only four by defensemen- and that came from Olli Maatta (2) and Robert Bortuzzo (2). Would have expected to see vets like Scuderi and Brooks Orpik getting in front of some pucks...
- Hard to blame Jeff Zatkoff for any of the goals he surrendered, pretty much any goalie would have been in trouble with the chances the team gave up. In fact, Zatkoff had a huge save on Nail Yakupov in the first that probably outweighed anything he gave up.
Well, on to the next one tonight against another weaker team, we'll see if the Pens took away any lessons from this one.