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Postcap: Penguins slumping into New Year with loss in Detroit

More of the same for the Pittsburgh Penguins on New Years Eve, as they can’t buy goals and lose 4-1 to the Detroit Red Wings

Pittsburgh Penguins v Detroit Red Wings

For the 7th time in the last 10 games, the Pittsburgh Penguins were losers to close out the 2017 portion of their 2017-18 season. It was a time to forget for the club going 19-18-3 and ahead of only the perpetually rebuilding Flyers in the division standings.

Last night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings featured several familiar items of the season. The Pens outshot Detroit 35-21 at 5-on-5 play, but were outscored 4-0.

“Tonight's probably different than the last one, a little different in the sense that, yeah, we did generate some good chances, probably chances that if we bury one or two of those, it's a much different outcome,” Sidney Crosby said after the loss. “We've got to find a way to get one and then build on it. It's not coming easy right now.”

Understated as always, it certainly isn’t coming easy for the Penguins right now. Sure they are down their three best right-handed defenseman but the bigger issues of not converting chances (Pittsburgh had 32 scoring chances in all situations, per Natural Stat Trick) and only generate 1 goal is a big problem that’s plagued the team all season.

Another example of the Penguins bad luck and bad play was in effect on Detroit’s 3rd goal, a momentum zapping score in the 2nd period that pushed the game to 3-1 and out of reach late. Brian Dumoulin got caught in the offensive zone behind the puck, Frans Nielson makes a nice play to fake out Matt Murray and tuck the puck in the net. Is that a save Murray should have? Is that an instance Dumoulin should have been more mindful of his defensive responsibilities and structure? Many questions but few answers right now for the Pens, aside from the obvious that they’re not getting enough saves from the goalie, their defense is making too many mistakes and their offense isn’t clicking like it usually does to score goals and make up for other inadequacies.

One bright spot was Daniel Sprong, playing his first NHL game of the season after a great start had him among the league leaders in goals in the AHL. Sprong recorded a game-high 6 shots on goal and played 16:39 at even strength, second highest among forwards on the team behind only Phil Kessel.

“We had a lot of shots. We had a lot of good chances,” Sprong said. “Bounces just not going our way. We just have to keep working hard and they're going to go in.”

Out of the mouth of babes, eh?

The Penguins are off on Monday as the road trip concludes tomorrow night in Philly. They still have 4 more games before a five day “bye week” that starts next Monday Jan 8 - Friday Jan 12th.