Ottawa 5 – Pittsburgh 1

The Pittsburgh Penguins (21-16-4, 46 pts) losing streak has reached five games, suffering a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Ottawa Senators on home ice. Milan Michalek scored twice and Senators goaltender Craig Anderson made 29 saves, leading Ottawa to victory. Jason Spezza, Bobby Butler and Chris Neil also scored for Ottawa. The Senators chased struggling goaltender Brent Johnson and scored on four consecutive shots from the first to the second period.
Johnson (2-5-2) exited 1:15 into the second period after making 5 saves on 8 shots. Pittsburgh again struggled to score, getting a lone goal from Evgeni Malkin who netted his 17th of the season and has scored in consecutive games. The Penguins have scored six goals in their last five games.
Ottawa (23-15-6, 52 pts) moves six points ahead of the Penguins in the standings and Pittsburgh currently sits in the No. 8 spot at the midpoint. Last year the New York Rangers were the No. 8 seed and made the playoffs with 93 points. Pittsburgh is on pace for 92.
“We’re well aware of where we are in the standings, ” defenseman Brooks Orpik said, who wasn’t taking any shots at Evgeni Malkin following today’s game. “This is the group that’s going to pull us through this.”
The three things that have plagued the Penguins of late continued tonight; Subpar goaltending, defensive breakdowns and the inability to score goals.
Defensively this team is a mess right now getting lazy effort and breakdowns from forwards on the backcheck, losing individual battles and getting subpar play from top defensemen like Zbynek Michalek and even Brooks Orpik who have to be better.
“Tonight with few plays, we gave them the lead, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “Couple breakdowns, couple miscues, {we} gave them goals, gave them easy goals. Serious gaffes on our part, ” Bylsma said. “Storyline of that game. Whether we did some good things or not, we got behind and when you look at scoreboard, that’s what you see.”
Once again Pittsburgh spotted the opposition a lead.
“Tonight, you got to keep it out of your net, ” Bylsma said. “You gotta play the right way. Play as a team defensively. ” The Penguins surely didn’t play as a team defensively.
The team is unraveling and it’s more than just injuries. The players though showed more fire in their post-game comments than they did with their play on the ice.
“It’s kind of gutcheck time for us right now. Time for real desperate effort, ” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “I think everybody knows situation we’re in. We’ll be really focused tomorrow.”
“We {just} have to be better. We know we do, ” winger Matt Cooke said. “The guys in this room just have to be better. “Everybody included….So there’s no misquotes, I’m not calling anybody out, ” Cooke added.
The Penguins who face the Washington Capitals tomorrow night, hit the road for a pivotal three game road trip that could define where things go from here. “We have a game tomorrow night against Washington and it doesn’t go any further than that, ” Cooke said.
What’s becoming alarming is that more than just Brooks Orpik the other day has hinted at some players not being able to deal with adversity when the Penguins get down. Something that hasn’t been an issue in years past.
“If you bury {your} heads after they score or something goes wrong and we keep putting our heads down, we’re not going to dig ourselves out of where we are {right now}, ” Neal said.”
Neal who is pointless in his last five games, is confident in this group turning things around quickly.
“We’ll figure it out as a team, ” winger James Neal said who is pointless in his last five games. “A lot of character guys here. We’ll pull together.”

1st Period
OTT GOAL: 11:13 Chris Neil (7)
Assists: Kyle Turris, Nick Foligno 1-0
OTT GOAL: 14:03 Bobby Butler (5)
Assist: Nick Foligno 2-0
2nd Period
OTT GOAL: 1:15 Jason Spezza (16)
Assists: Colin Greening, Chris Phillips 3-0
OTT GOAL; 5:43 Milan Michalek (21) (Power Play)
Assists: Colin Greening, Jason Spezza 4-0
PIT GOAL: 11:14 Evgeni Malkin (17)
unassisted 4-1
3rd Period
OTT GOAL: 12:36 Milan Michalek (22)
Assists: Colin Greening, Filip Kuba 5-1