Penguins taking a beating in overtime
BOSTON – Given the gimmicky nature of the NHL’s three-on-three overtime process, a case could be made that teams should spend next to no time worrying about it.
It’s a parade of odd-man rushes, resembling an actual hockey game only slightly more than the shootout that sometimes follows it. Worrying about overtime performance in the NHL is the equivalent of an NFL team fretting about how often it loses the game’s opening coin toss.
The Pittsburgh Penguins do not subscribe to this line of thought.
The equipment bags being angrily tossed around the visiting locker room at the TD Garden on Friday night after Joakim Nordstrom gave the Boston Bruins a 2-1 overtime win were proof positive of that.
The Penguins are 2-3 in overtime and 0-2 in the shootout this season.
They’re not happy about it and they’re not willing to chalk it up to bad luck.
“It’s hard to try to identify trends with such a small sample size, but I can look at situations,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “In every situation, could we have done things better to try to get a different result? Yes.”
There are a few reasons the Penguins are taking their overtime situation seriously.
For one, they know they’re capable of much more. They went 12-4 in games decided in overtime last season. The 12 overtime were three more than anyone else in the league.
Second, the points they’re squandering matter. The Penguins are tied with New Jersey for last place in the Metropolitan Division, five points out of a playoff spot. If they had found a way to win three of the five games they lost post-regulation this season, they’d be tied with the Islanders for fifth, two points out of a playoff spot.
Finally, the optics of the losses are just bad.
On Wednesday night, after a Brian Dumoulin turnover, the Penguins forward pair of Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel was caught on the ice for an extraordinarily long shift.
Begging for a line change, fatigue left the Penguins flailing away as Torey Krug set up Nordstrom for a redirection in front.
“We stayed on ice a little bit longer. We’re tired. They changed a couple of times. We lost players and they scored,” Malkin said. “We need to play a little bit smarter. They’re a fast team. They pressure our D so hard. Turnover in the neutral zone, one mistake and they score. We need to play smarter.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.