There’s a malady the Pittsburgh Penguins have to kick before they can rejoin the ranks of Eastern Conference contenders after an underwhelming start to the season.
They have to shed their allergy to prosperity.
It’s a trend that started the first week of the season. They followed a rousing overtime win over Washington in the opener with a dud of a 5-1 loss to Montreal.
After ripping through Canada on a 4-0 road trip, they returned home to lose five in row.
Solid back-to-back wins over Columbus and Winnipeg were followed by deflating losses to Colorado and Philadelphia.
Now, with an 11-10-5 record in tow, the Penguins are coming off perhaps their most impressive victory of the season.
Colorado came into PPG Paints Arena on a 9-0-2 run Tuesday night and left with a 6-3 loss thanks to a third-period hat trick by Patric Hornqvist.
The real trick, of course, is not slipping back into mediocrity when the New York Islanders come to town Thursday night. A win could vault the Penguins back into a playoff spot in the conference.
“You have to be able to follow it up,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “It feels good when you put one together, but it doesn’t guarantee you’re going to get the next one. Just because you played that way doesn’t mean it’s automatic. I still feel, last game, there are some things we can build up. It wasn’t a perfect game, but it’s nice to get two points and you try to ride that.”
In the long run, the win over Colorado might be most beneficial to the Penguins if it gets a couple of key contributors going.
Evgeni Malkin scored his first even-strength goal in 15 games in the first period. Derick Brassard broke a six-game points drought with a goal. Casey DeSmith settled in after Colorado erased a three-goal Penguins lead in the second period.
“Time will tell, but I certainly think that with some of the performances last night, it should give certain guys a little bit more confidence, take a little bit of pressure off,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “You know no one puts more pressure on these guys than themselves. They’re a proud group and they all have high expectations of themselves. They all want to do well. They want to help the team win.
“After a game like last night, we got some big plays at key times from players that are important players for us. Hopefully that will give them all a boost of confidence moving forward.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.