Penguins’ nosedive continues
BOSTON — There was nothing the Penguins players could say after their 6-3 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday at the TD Banknorth Garden that they haven’t said many times already this season.
They took too many penalties again, dug themselves a hole again, are still disappointed and still frustrated that their much-anticipated season has gone from hopeful to dreadful in less than three weeks.
The only thing that changed last night was the number of games they’ve played without a win.
It’s now at eight (0-4-4), and with the Atlanta Thrashers’ victory over the New Jersey Devils last night, the Penguins have the fewest points of any team in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s not easy right now,” rookie Sidney Crosby said. “It just seems like we’re going good, and then we get penalties. It just seems like when things are going right it suddenly turns.”
For the second game in a row, everything unraveled in the second period.
The Penguins came out of the first period tied, 1-1, after a late power-play goal by defenseman Sergei Gonchar to wrap up perhaps his best period of play yet in a Penguins jersey. But that was the last time they’d come anywhere close to being in the game.
The second period started with a penalty just 13 seconds in and by the time the 20 minutes were up, the Bruins had been on the man advantage for 12 of them. They’d also outshot the Penguins, 22-5, for a two-period total of 38-11, and scored on four of their eight power plays for a 5-1 lead.
One goal-against was 5-on-4, one was 4-on-3 and two were 5-on-3.
“Eventually, the law of averages is going to be against you when you take that many penalties and you’re shorthanded for that length of time with 4-on-3s or 5-on-3s,” coach Eddie Olczyk said. “It ended up being almost five and a half actual minutes of ice time that we had three players on the ice. If they have four or five, that’s a serious problem.”
The Penguins finished 1-for-8 on the power play and 9-for-13 on the penalty kill.
“Penalties are penalties,” Olczyk said. “I’m not saying everything they did was within the boundaries of the rules, but they didn’t call them and that’s the way that it is. We took penalties, and they were penalties.”
Ryan Malone and Brooks Orpik both scored in the third period to make it 5-3, but that was with just six minutes left to play. Boston’s Joe Thornton scored his second of the night at 16:23 to finish with two goals and two assists. Dave Scatchard also scored two for the Bruins while Sergei Samsonov and Glen Murray each had a goal and an assist.
Crosby and Ziggy Palffy had two assists apiece for the Penguins, while goaltender Jocelyn Thibault finished with 41 saves on 47 shots. The Penguins had a total of 21 shots on goal.
“It’s frustrating,” Thibault said. “I don’t have much to say. It’s something we have to address. We can’t go through the season like this. It’s early in the season, it’s not too late to change those things but it seems like the same record every night.”
This is the longest winless streak to start a season in franchise history, with the Penguins’ next game Tuesday against the Florida Panthers at Mellon Arena.
Karen Price is a former freelancer.