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RECAP Penguins vs Senators: Quit digging when you hit rock bottom

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It’s not a pretty sight folks

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

“We have a good team, we have a good group. We believe in ourselves, that’s the key. One shift is going to turn the season around for us. And that’s going to happen here in Ottawa”. — Patric Hornqvist, pre-game.

Warmups showed that probably wasn’t going to be the case.

“Not so fast my friend!” - Lee Corso - Hockey Gods

From there, it was somehow only downhill once Kris Letang scored on the power play to make it 1-0 Penguins.

Brady Tkachuk tied it up after, what else, but the first of many total team breakdowns

A bit later Mark Stone would score his first (but not his last) goal of the night to give the Senators a 2-1 lead.

Before the first could end, Ottawa executes a give and go that leaves the Pens and Matt Murray in the dust to make it 3-1.

2nd period

Casey DeSmith is in the net to replace Murray. Not sure how it’s Murray’s fault but Lord knows that’s what Pens fans are for to assign the blame.

The period doesn’t go better, as Murray isn’t really the root of the problem. Matt Cullen takes a penalty (his second of the game). Evgeni Malkin takes one too. The team is out of sorts.

Pittsburgh stays in it long enough to get a power play. “Only” down 3-1, they still have hope, right? But up comes another microcosm of the season to ask too much and have parts fail. The first power play group doesn’t score, out comes the second unit. Olli Maatta advances the puck up the ice once, makes a nice pass, the Pens get a zone entry.

But they can’t hold it and Maatta has to make a second try. This time, he bombs out and Stone steals the puck away from him. Stone races in alone on DeSmith, dekes backhand and has an easy goal. 4-1 with 3:35 left in the period.

And, once again the Pens can’t get out of the period without sustaining even more damage. They play lackadaisical in the d-zone. Neither Malkin nor Jack Johnson skate to a lose puck so Ottawa wins it back. The Senators are changing and only have 3 players in the play. This is shameful. Cody Ceci wires a shot past DeSmith. 5-1.

3rd period

To their credit though, the Pens don’t just lay down and die. They’re still trying and still digging and Zach Aston-Reese scores his first goal of the year off a deflection from an Ottawa defenseman up front.

Then, some life. Johnson makes a wonderful indirect pass up to a streaking Bryan Rust. Rust takes a low hard shot off the right wing that Craig Anderson kicks out as a rebound that Cullen chips into the net. 5-3 and there’s some hope with 14+ minutes left.

LOL jk, more bad decisions this time from Brian Dumoulin and Chad Ruhwedel who let Matt Duchene go right down the middle on DeSmith. 6-3.

Again, though the Pens don’t go away. They pull the goalie and Phil Kessel sends a puck to the net that Hornqvist tips into the top corner. It’s 6-4.

With 1:30 left and the goalie still pulled, Stone has only Malkin in between getting a hat trick. Geno lays it on the line and drops down to block a shot to shield the empty net. While down 2 goals. They’re frustrating as hell but hey, they didn’t lay down and die without a fight.

But they still lost 6-4 in a game they definitely deserved to lose.

Some Thoughts

  • You can go up and down the lineup and put some blame on practically everyone. No player is all that sharp. As a unit they’re not meshing. They’re not getting saves from either goalie, but both goalies are getting hung out to dry with facing quality chances.
  • Defensemen are turning the puck over. Pick one, he did it.
  • Forwards aren’t trying hard when they don’t have the puck. Pick one, he applies.
  • Is there a bright spot? Not sure that there is. The team didn’t quit, at least. So I guess you can point to that. Even down 5-1, sometimes the Penguins just go into a shell and roll over and finish out games quietly. They raged on in the 3rd period. I guess that’s a good point. But it didn’t make close to a difference and in a 5-1 hole entering the last 20 minutes the chances to succeed aren’t very good, obviously.
  • Daniel Sprong was somewhat of a surprise inclusion to the lineup, coming at the expense of a healthy scratch to Riley Sheahan. Sheahan has been a downer this year, but he’s far from been the only one. Sprong got 10:16 and put 2 shots on goal with 5 total shot attempts. No points but both of those stats are encouraging.
  • Can you take any moral victories from a big loss? In Ottawa? Sheesh! Guess we’ll maybe find out.