The Pittsburgh Penguins started sluggish and it ended up costing them Wednesday night against the Colorado Avalanche. The Pens only recorded 5 shots on goal in a scoreless opening first period. Then, 13 seconds into the second period, while short-handed, Jarome Iginla burst in the offensive zone and was given too big a cushion by the retreating Rob Scuderi. Iginla blasted a shot that eluded Marc-Andre Fleury to put the Avs on the board.
The Pens never really got their feet under them and then fell behind 2-0 in the second when the puck clicked off of Nathan MacKinnon right in front of the net.
Pittsburgh hasn't won a game this season when they've trailed after 2 periods and last night wouldn't be the first. Though it wasn't for a lack of effort from Evgeni Malkin. The Pens center was terrific in the second half of the hockey game, generating a lot of chances, one of which turned into the team's only goal when he collected his own blocked shot and threw it past Semyon Varlamov to make the game 2-1.
Unfortunately, it wouldn't last. The Pens were making a huge push in the 3rd period and had chances to score but couldn't, and then Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog rocketed past rookie Derrick Pouliot in the neutral zone and placed a perfect shot by Fleury to essentially seal the deal at 3-1.
Tough news for a road loss against a non-playoff team, in what on paper should have been the easiest game of this 4 game road trip. The Pens head to California for three games against all the CA teams. A few thoughts before that:
- Blake Comeau is still the sweetheart of the season for many Penguins fans, but in consecutive shifts in the first period he took 2 really avoidable penalties. The second one ended up in the net and really put the team behind the 8-ball for the rest of the game.
- Very quiet night for Sidney Crosby. No shots on goal and only 35% on 20 draws. Not one to remember.
- Patric Hornqvist, though, had 7 shots on goal and 7 more shot attempts (6 of which got blocked). Nice to see him throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the goalie, but when the opponent blocks 6 of your shots, it's probably time to be a little choosier about making sure there is a shooting lane for the puck to actually make it to the net.
- That was a trend for the whole team, though. The Pens had 29 shots on goal. The Avalanche blocked 25 more Pittsburgh shot attempts. That's ridiculously high, which probably says more about Colorado's willingness to get in shooting lanes, but it also speaks to Pittsburgh not doing a good enough job in deciding when to shoot.
- Missing the net hurt too, the Pens did it 16 times. Out of the 70 total shot attempts, they only put 29 through to Varlamov. That's not good enough.
- Pouliot showed why he isn't quite ready for prime-time on the 3rd goal against. He got scorched. A few years from now, he'll probably be able to defend the game's best players competently. For now, not so much.
- The new guys plays a pretty steady, fairly quiet game. I thought Ian Cole played pretty well, he seems to be very steady, confident in his play with the puck and stepped up and threw his body around. Cole only played 12:20, but was credited with 4 hits and 3 blocked shots.
- Chris Kunitz also was one of the few Pens forwards to play well with 4 shots on goal and 5 hits. Kunitz was one of the few forwards (led by Malkin) who actually seemed to have their legs moving.
- Ben Lovejoy played 19:27 with 6 shot attempts (only 2 on goal) and had 3 hits.