Game 5 What We Learned

The Pittsburgh had their most dominating performance of the postseason and quit possibly the best overall performance in tilting the ice for an entire game since maybe the 2016 postseason, yet, here they are on the brink of elimination after a 3-2 loss to the Islanders in double overtime.

The Penguins lost this game despite a 50-28 edge in shots, 36-17 edge in scoring chances through first 80 minutes of play and a 14-4 edge in high danger chances.

The Penguins afterwards sounded like a hockey club where they just suffered a Game 1 loss of the series not a Game 5 loss that now has them having to win two in a row to advance.

“I was really proud of the team,” Sullivan said in taking quite the positive approach to the Game 5 loss. “I thought we played a really solid hockey game. All four lines were going, all six defenseman. Tristan made a couple of big saves for us throughout the course of the game. We played with some swagger. There was a lot of like about this game…..There are a lot of positives that we can draw on moving forward.”

Kris Letang despite the loss even called it a “statement” game from the Penguins.

“I think we made a statement,” said Letang. That’s the way we need to play going into their arena. I’m pretty confident that if we play the same way, we’ll get the result.”

The Penguins certainly did their part in bouncing back and showed again for whatever reason, they’re wired differently at home. Expecting the same fast paced, methodical style of play to be on the same level as Game 5 is going to be wishful thinking with the series shifting back to the Island. That place is going to be rocking.

— Hard Questions are coming soon……….

Pittsburgh got another dreadful performance from Tristan Jarry as Ilya Sorokin was fantastic in making 48 saves and shutout the Penguins over the final 53 minutes of play. Some criticism is warranted that you play this well and have the type of gifted players the Penguins do, you gotta finish another chance or two.

At the end of the day, though, what Tristan Jarry has proved is that the moment is too big for him and that’s a major problem in the big picture for the Penguins. He isn’t some 21, 22 year old rookie.

It wasn’t the double overtime gaffe in turning the puck over that we most concerning. Players make mistakes. 

It was how he reacted on breakdowns from the second goal against to the double OT winner where he looked like a 45 year old pickup goaltender in how he was flopping around. He gave the team no chance as the second layer of defense.

It’s night and day how cool and collected Sorokin is in goal compared to how Jarry has been for much of the series in high pressure moments.

And here’s the reality for the Penguins.

Tristan Jarry isn’t beating Tuukka Rask four times if the Penguins find a way to advance to the second round. The Penguins do not have a legitimate No. 1 type goaltender long-term to be in the best position to compete for Cups during Sidney Crosby’s final great years.

— No one close to the situation is ready to go there yet that if the Penguins go out with a whimper in Game 6 that Mike Sullivan’s job is in serious jeopardy but just like everyone else, his future has been under evaluation from the new regime. The desire of the new regime to get a little more heavier and bring in more power forward type wingers and more muscle on the backend has been the plan for months and that was always going to be a discussion the two sides were going to have to work through this summer and an early exit is only going to push those plans into the forefront and force Sullivan’s hand that small changes to the style play will need to be made to the front office’s liking. Where that goes is anyone’s guess and a reason some around the league with openings have had close eyes To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!