Eleven years ago today, the Penguins improbable run into the postseason without its two stars as a part of the lineup came to an end.
In the 2011 NHL Playoffs, the Penguins were without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who both were lost to injury earlier in the season.
Crosby was sidelined with concussion-related issues following two hits to the head in January, one which occurred during the 2011 Winter Classic. Malkin was sidelined with a major knee injury which he suffered shortly after Crosby’s injury.
The Pens persevered on with a ‘next man up’ mentality, seemingly finding ways to not miss a beat, even with young players in the lineup that fans may have never even heard of.
The team ended up qualifying for the postseason and drew the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Pens and Lightning traded wins in the first two games of the series, and Pittsburgh headed to Florida looking to make a move.
A 3-2 win in Game 3 gave the Pens a chance to grab a hold of the series in Game 4, which they won in double overtime thanks to James Neal.
Just one win away from the Conference Semifinals — but the Pens were unable to capitalize, losing 8-2 in Game 5 and 4-2 in Game 6.
Back to Pittsburgh for Game 7, and the Penguins got shut out, losing 1-0 on a Sean Bergenheim goal.
Losing the series didn’t feel like that much of a loss, given the achievement of making the playoffs with a depleted lineup, but blowing a 3-1 series lead is never a good feeling.