Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins’ 5-3 loss to Anaheim…
* The Pens got off to the start they wanted. They appeared to show no signs of sluggishness despite the time change, as they had their legs under them from the drop of the puck and controlled play for most of the first period despite being outshot. They went into the first intermission with a well-earned 1-0 lead.
* Things took a turn in the second. The Ducks ended up taking a 2-1 lead off a pair of fluky goals – one off a perfect deflection; the other when Tristan Jarry’s stick got tangled up on one side of the net and prevented him from sliding over to stop a wraparound. Even though there wasn’t much the Pens could do on those, the momentum definitely shifted. The Pens started getting sloppy with the puck, giving up odd-man rushes and quality chances against, and handed the Ducks some freebies that they promptly took advantage of.
“I thought we had moments in the game where we were really good and others where we weren’t so good,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “You can’t give up four breakaways. We’re hitting shinpads, we didn’t take care of the puck in certain areas of the rink and when we don’t play a disciplined, diligent game in those areas, then you’re vulnerable. The real estate inside and outside the blue lines are so critically important to becoming a team that’s harder to play against and when we don’t take care of the puck in those areas, you’re going to run the risk of those types of plays.”
* The Pens did do a good job of battling back in the third. They pushed hard and made it a game, creating as much as they gave up. But unfortunately, the hockey gods weren’t on their side tonight as some of those fantastic chances just wouldn’t fall. “We fell short tonight, but we’ve just got to make sure we heed the lessons and I think the most important takeaway is that we’ve just got make sure that we take care of the puck in those critical areas of the rink,” Sullivan said.
* This was an interesting night on special teams. The Ducks dominated that area for the first two periods, where their fifth-ranked penalty kill was phenomenal against Pittsburgh’s top-ranked power play. They created more shorthanded than the Pens did with the extra man, and ended up getting a goal off a breakaway as a result. However, the Pens responded in the third with a pair of power-play goals from Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel to cut a 4-1 deficit to 4-3.