Even-strength offense dries up for Penguins during recent skid

November 29, 2018

After suffering through a 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday and a 5-0 blowout at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, the Pittsburgh Penguins could have easily pointed a finger at their power play.

Against the Islanders, a shorthanded goal by Josh Bailey in the second period was a pivotal point in the game.

Against the Maple Leafs, the Penguins went 0 for 5 with the man-advantage.

They could have scored the game’s first goal after Patrick Marleau was called for hooking less than five minutes in. They could have cut into a 2-0 deficit after Igor Ozhiganov and Nazem Kadri were whistled for consecutive minors 2 minutes, 1 second apart in the second period.

They did neither.

Defenseman Kris Letang, however, thinks such a blame game would be misguided.

“We had chances. Goalie was strong,” Letang said, tipping his cap to Frederik Andersen. “At the end of the day, you can’t rely just on your power play.

“We have to be able to make a difference five-on-five, try to find a way to score goals. It can’t be all tic-tac-toes or pretty plays. In a game like this, when it’s tight, you have to figure out a different way to produce.”

Letang probably has a point.

When the Penguins don’t score on the power play this season, they have a respectable 2-3-1 record. They can survive that.

When they don’t manage an even-strength goal, they’re 0-1-1.

Guess which two games those were.

Thursday’s loss to the Islanders and Saturday’s loss to the Maple Leafs.

“We didn’t get the quality chances we usually get on the rush,” Letang said. “They were always back. They were tracking back hard. It was one of those games. I didn’t think we found a way to make a difference when things don’t go your way.”

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