In Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Islanders, the Penguins trailed after the second period for the 11th time in 23 games.
Then the Sidney Crosby show in the third period fueled a comeback only to see the Penguins fall short on a breakdown in front of the net as Anders Lee was left all alone for a redirection goal with 26 seconds left in regulation.
Despite the third period surge, the Penguins got the result they deserved.
What this game showed is who the Penguins have been for much of this season. Some dominant stretches but largely an inconsistent effort with poor play away from the puck.
The Penguins are really struggling right now with their lack of awareness defensively.
“We’ve got to have some awareness of where people are on the rink,” Sullivan said.
The Lee goal was a prime example where Nick Bonino doesn’t slide down but it wasn’t just one or two situations.
Individually one of the biggest culprits is Evgeni Malkin. While Malkin had the game tying goal in the third period off of a great play from Sidney Crosby in the neutral zone and dish from Brian Dumoulin, his play away from the puck has been disastrous.
Malkin was on the ice for the first three goals against in the game.
On the second goal against he lost a defensive zone faceoff he put little to no effort into winning.
And for Malkin there’s been just way too much floating around in the d-zone. It crushed the Penguins last night. Here was one play where Olli Maatta is getting pressured and Malkin just circles towards the boards as the puck bounces in front and the Islanders get a high danger scoring chance.
— Matt Murray allowed four goals on 29 shots. The first two goals against he got beat with shots through his armpit, the last two were d-zone breakdowns. While the second goal against was a soft one, Murray did a good job of keeping this game from getting out of hand in the second, highlighted by his save on John Tavares during a 5-on-3 situation.
Matt Murray save pic.twitter.com/sVeHLtNwrs
— Insidepghsports (@Insidepghsports) December 1, 2016
Murray, though, has an .881 save percentage over his last two starts.
— One reason the Penguins are on the hunt for a top-4 defenseman. They have no legit No. 2 pairing and that was on display vs the Islanders.
— The Penguins 0-3 on the power play managed just 2 power play shots in six minutes.
— Jake Guentzel fell into Mike Sullivan’s dog house last night. As Sullivan shortened the bench, Guentzel saw just three shifts in the third with Matt Cullen moving up to Malkin’s left wing for the most part.