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Penguins vs Senators Recap: Pens come out flat, lose again

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The Pittsburgh Penguins lose their second regulation game in as many days (for the first time in the last 90 games) after a flat start tonight in Ottawa. Conor Sheary scores the lone Pittsburgh goal in a 4-1 loss.

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

Matt Murray (out injured since December 28th) is back and in the net. Tom Kuhnhackl (out himself since December 16) also gets back in the lineup at the expense of Eric Fehr otherwise the team is the same as last night's game.

1st period

Ottawa gets an early power play, and Bobby Ryan puts them on the board first with a one-time slapshot from the left side that eludes Murray. 1-0. A couple failed clears didn't help the cause.

The Pens get a power play but concede 3 shots, luckily Murray keeps it out of the net. However, right after the Pens PP expires, they take another penalty and give up another goal on the PK when Mike Hoffman tips a shot in the high-slot, no chance for Murray there. 2-0.

Shots 15-8 Ottawa after one. Arguably one of the Pens worst periods of the season between being outshot, taking 3 stick penalties (giving up 2 goals), general sloppy play.

2nd period

Pretty quiet first half of the period, then Sidney Crosby loses a faceoff and then loses coverage of Tom Pyatt who makes a tip-in from point blank range past Murray to make it 3-0 Senators. Yikes.

(Someone tell Nick Bonino it's a contract year)

With just 6 seconds left the Pens finally get on the board, a nice shift from an improvised Conor Sheary - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust line that culminates with Malkin throwing a shot on net that Sheary tips in. It's a night of redirects!

Pittsburgh lucky to get some life to go into the second intermission since they looked pretty much dead-in-the-water before hand.

3rd period

The Pens switch up some lines to start the period, Wilson is up with Malkin-Hornqivst, HBK is put back together and Chris Kunitz is bumped to the 4th line with Matt Cullen in an attempt to unite some old man strength (probably). Of all the changes, the most visibly impactful is Wilson, who flashes with the puck and a couple of strong shifts with Big Gene.

Pittsburgh pushes for a goal, which means openings the other way, a couple nice saves by Murray to keep the team in the game for a while, but that comes to an end on a weird change (and Kris Letang getting caught waaay up ice) and Derrick Brassard lays a nice pass up for Mark Stone to tap in to make it 4-1.

With 1:57 left to go in the game, coach Mike Sullivan actually gets kicked out of the game. Pretty rare to see the NHL referees boot a coach off the bench.

Some Thoughts

  • A night after taking 2 minor penalties, Steve Oleksy cuts ruts to the penalty box again early in the 1st, which leads to the goal to make it 2-0. Maybe it was a LH/RH thing, but why play him over David Warsofsky (healthy scratch again)? That goal really put the team in a hole.
  • A night after hitting the post in Washington, Scott Wilson rings a puck off the cross-bar in Ottawa. Tough luck for him right now, but hopefully he keeps shooting and eventually the pucks will start going in the net for him, one would think.
  • Interestingly for Wilson, he got 3rd period shifts on the Malkin line (after Carl Hagelin hasn't done much lately except take penalties last night and tonight). As we've harped on before, LW goal production from guys not-named-Sheary has been a major issue all season. If only there was someone in the organization who played LW (even if listed as a center) and was scoring a lot at a lower level....
  • But, half kidding aside, Wilson isn't going to get an indefinite chance to play on a Malkin line, nice to see him string a couple of good shifts together, even if he wasn't able to score.
  • No coincidence the 2 tipped goals both originated off the stick of Erik Karlsson before the teammate redirected.
  • The Pens PP was bad, bad, bad, coughing up pucks and often giving up 2-on-1's and chances against. Off top of mind, not sure they even generated a scoring chance of their own on the PP.
  • In the 3rd down 4-1 the Pens put Crosby out for a SH faceoff (though Matt Cullen was shaken up from blocking a shot with his foot at the time too) and Sid creates a 2-on-1 and shot. Didn't score but certainly interesting to see 87 out there in any 4v5 situation.
  • Justin Schultz had 5 shot attempts on the night. Sounds good right? Yeah, but each and every one of those 5 were blocked by a Senator. (Insert shrugface here)
  • Of the last 9 goals the Penguins have allowed, Letang's been on ice for 7. Bound to happen with the volume of minutes and top competition he faces, plus he's still probably under the weather, but Pittsburgh's best defenseman is fairly out-of-sync following his December injury and the bye week.
  • In fact, even though the Pens beat (a tired) Tampa 6-2 on the first night back from the bye week, the whole team hasn't really look in sorts.
  • First time all season the Pens have lost 2 regulation games in a row, in fact first time in 90 regular season games.

An unsuccessful road-trip but the team has a chance to finish it on a better note Saturday night in Detroit.