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Penguins lose to Bruins in overtime

Jonathan Bombulie
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The Penguins’ Jake Guentzel checks the Bruins’ Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson during the first period.
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The Bruins’ Brad Marchand (63) battles the Penguins’ Brian Dumoulin (8) for the puck during the second period Friday, Nov. 23, 2018.

BOSTON — There’s an accomplished group of players in the Pittsburgh Penguins locker room.

Many have won Stanley Cup championships. As recently as last season, they’d reel off a six-game winning streak without even thinking twice about it.

But these are different times. After recently stacking a four-game losing streak on top of a five-game skid, they need every point in the standings they can get.

So it stands to reason they might have taken some pride in their effort Friday night in Boston, right?

Joakim Nordstrom redirected in a Torey Krug one-timer about two minutes into overtime to give the Bruins a 2-1 victory, but the Penguins have gained at least one point in the standings in three straight games (1-0-2).

That had to be cause for at least a few pats on the back, wasn’t it?

Not really.

Certainly not from the coach.

“We’re looking for wins,” Mike Sullivan said. “We’re looking for wins. We have higher expectations where we’re trying to win every game that we’re in.”

Not from the team’s longest-tenured defenseman, either.

“It’s not about celebrating,” Kris Letang said. “It’s about learning and taking what we did good and what we need to improve. I don’t think there’s celebration. It’s not like we won anything.”

Most of the consternation involved the Penguins’ play in the three-on-three overtime session. The forward pair of Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel was caught out on the ice for an interminable shift before Nordstrom scored.

The Penguins believe, with as much skill as they have on their roster, they should fare better in overtime than they have this season. They’re 2-3 in overtime games and 0-2 in the shootout.

“For me, the three-on-three game is all about possession,” Sullivan said. “It’s about keeping the puck. It’s not forcing plays. It’s about shot selection and line changes, making sure you keep fresh people on the ice and you don’t get caught out with an extended shift where you have to defend and you’re tired.”

The Penguins were also unhappy with their five-on-five play. Their only goal came on a rocket of a one-timer from Malkin on the power play in the second period.

“Power play, if it gives you a goal and your PK is able to not allow any, it’s always a good thing,” Letang said. “But at the end of the day, we have to find a way to score five-on-five. We have to find a way to win those games.”

The top highlight for the Penguins was probably the play of Tristan Jarry, who made 35 saves in his first NHL start of the season. He was called up Thursday, when Matt Murray was placed on the injured list, and was thrown right into the fire.

Before overtime, the only goal he gave up came on a Jake DeBrusk one-timer from the top of the left circle in the second period. Boston had another goal waved off when referees ruled the whistle blew before the Bruins jammed in the rebound of a David Backes shot at the left post.

“Even in the American League, my goal is to get better every game,” Jarry said. “Just upping my standards and having higher standards for every game has helped me a lot.”

Patric Hornqvist took a hard hit from Boston’s Kevan Miller in the second period and did not return for the third. Sullivan said he would be evaluated once the team returned to Pittsburgh.

“He’s a big part of our team,” Letang said. “It’s tough to not see him on the ice.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at
[email protected] or
via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

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