CHICAGO – The Pittsburgh Penguins have earned themselves an unenviable distinction in the first two months of the season.
They’re the team that struggling clubs want to play in order to get back on the right track.
The 13-11-6 record the Penguins have fashioned through 30 games is good enough to keep them in the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference, but four of the 11 regulation losses they suffered came against teams that probably won’t sniff the postseason come April.
Here’s a look at those losses.
— Wednesday night: Chicago 6, Penguins 3
The Blackhawks came into the game on an eight-game losing streak. They played the night before in Winnipeg. They had given up the first goal in 11 straight games. The Penguins trailed most of the game anyway. Even a Bryan Rust hat trick couldn’t save the day.
“I think we have to go home and hopefully we get a little bit (angry) and are mad at ourselves for letting one slip,” center Matt Cullen said. “You only get so many opportunities and we all know that.”
— Dec. 1: Philadelphia 4, Penguins 2
The Flyers came into the game losers of six of their previous seven games and they’d just fired general manager Ron Hextall a few days before. A soul-crushing shorthanded goal by Dale Weise in the first minute of the third period was the back-breaker.
— Nov. 17: Ottawa 6, Penguins 4
Just before going on a four-game losing streak, the Senators spent a night beating up on the Penguins. They scored three unanswered goals in the final six minutes of the first period to chase Matt Murray. They took a 5-1 lead before the Penguins tried to mount a face-saving rally in the third.
— Nov. 15, New Jersey 5, Penguins 1
The Devils lost the three games before this game at PPG Paints Arena and promptly lost the three games afterwards as well. In between, Brian Boyle finished off a hat trick with two power-play goals in the second period to kick dirt on the Penguins.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.