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Penguins can’t overcome horrible start, fall to Maple Leafs, 4-3 | TribLIVE.com
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Penguins can’t overcome horrible start, fall to Maple Leafs, 4-3

Tribune-Review
| Saturday, December 9, 2017 9:54 p.m

The Penguins have provided a valuable service for busy members of their fanbase so far this season.

On most nights, viewers need not commit to an entire evening in front of the television to find out if the hometown team is going to win a hockey game.

They have to watch only the first few minutes of the first period.

Take Saturday night for example.

The Penguins were horrendous in the first two minutes, giving up goals to Connor Brown and James van Riemsdyk before the popcorn slowed to 2 to 3 seconds between pops.

Despite several twists and turns the rest of the way, they lost 4-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“They’re ready to play. We’re not,” Evgeni Malkin said. “It’s not the first time. It’s all season. When we start better, we win the game.”

When the Penguins lead after the first period this season, they’re 10-0-1. When they give up the first goal, they’re 2-9-1.

It’s a development that has coach Mike Sullivan puzzled and furious.

“It’s a head-scratcher for me,” Sullivan said. “I’m not sure I understand why, but that’s something we as a group have to solve if we’re going to become the team we want to be.”

The Penguins also lost winger Patric Hornqvist to injury when a puck hit him in the side of the helmet in the first minute of the third period. He left the game and did not return. Sullivan said he still was being evaluated immediately after the game.

The particulars of the brutal start, meanwhile, went something like this: Two goals 19 seconds apart on back-to-back chaotic shifts.

On the first, Jake Guentzel, Matt Hunwick and Malkin collided in the middle of the defensive zone. When they got up, no one picked up Brown, who was wide open at the right hash marks. He took a cross-ice pass from Morgan Rielly and lobbed it into an empty cage as Tristan Jarry was slow to get across his crease.

The second was more of a standard net-front scramble, with van Riemsdyk collecting a loose puck and shooting past the sliding bodies of Ian Cole, Hornqvist and Jarry.

“It’s a lack of awareness,” Sullivan said. “It’s a compete level in front of our net. There’s a lot of things, but it starts, for me, with a mindset and a readiness and a willingness to play the game hard.”

The Maple Leafs made it 3-0 later in the first when Jarry spilled the rebound of a Mitch Marner shot to Tyler Bozak at the top of the crease.

Jarry, who stopped 13 of 16 shots before being pulled at the end of the first, wasn’t as sharp as he was in his previous four starts over the last nine days. Still, Sullivan laid no part of the loss at his rookie goalie’s feet.

“He didn’t get much help in front of him,” Sullivan said.

The Penguins made a respectable solid comeback bid in the last two periods.

Malkin scored on the power play. Dominik Simon had two assists in his season debut. Riley Sheahan scored for the second consecutive game. Sidney Crosby pulled the Penguins within one in the final three minutes.

It was fruitless because of the hole the Penguins put themselves in early.

“We can’t come out seeing what kind of game it’s going to be,” Crosby said, “and before we know it, we’re down 2-0 or 3-0.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jbombulie@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.


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Toronto Maple Leafs' Tyler Bozak (42) celebrates his goal past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry (35) with Mitchell Marner, center, in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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Toronto Maple Leafs' Tyler Bozak (42) collects a rebound in front of Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry (35) with Riley Sheahan (15) defending and scores in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 09: Tyler Bozak #42 of the Toronto Maple Leafs is checked into the boards by Chad Ruhwedel #2 of the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on December 9, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 09: Tyler Bozak #42 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on December 9, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 09: Tyler Bozak #42 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on December 9, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 09: Conner Brown #28 of the Toronto Maple Leafs reaches for the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on December 9, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 09: Mitchell Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs tries to put the puck by Tristan Jarry #35 of the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on December 9, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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Toronto Maple Leafs' James van Riemsdyk, lower right, gets a shot under a sliding Pittsburgh Penguins' Patric Hornqvist (72) and past goalie Tristan Jarry (35) for a goal in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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Toronto Maple Leafs' James van Riemsdyk (25) celebrates his goal with Tyler Bozak (42) in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Toronto Maple Leafs' Nikita Zaitsev (22) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 09: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates with teammates after a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on December 9, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 09: Fredrik Andersen #31 of the Toronto Maple Leafs has the puck get past him against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on December 9, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 09: Fredrik Andersen #31 of the Toronto Maple Leafs makes a save against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on December 9, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 09: Olli Maata #3 of the Pittsburgh Penguins fights for the puck against Patrick Marleau #12 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at PPG PAINTS Arena on December 9, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 09: Olli Maatta #3 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates after the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs at PPG PAINTS Arena on December 9, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 09: Tristan Jarry #35 of the Pittsburgh Penguins makes a save against the Toronto Maple Leafs at PPG PAINTS Arena on December 9, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 09: Olli Maata #3 of the Pittsburgh Penguins knocks Dominic Moore #20 of the Toronto Maple Leafs to the ice at PPG PAINTS Arena on December 9, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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