The Penguins again let a lead slip away at home and find themselves still searching for their first win in the CONSOL Energy Center. This one was especially painful because they managed to claw back from an early 1-0 deficit to take a 2-1 lead only to watch it quickly evaporate.
The thing that seemed to bothering the team most this evening was the fact that their own actions put them in harm’s way most of all. Not that the Leafs didn’t work their tails off and deserve a victory tonight, but the Penguins allowed multiple opportunities to fall by the wayside. They turned the puck over, made bad passes and just seemed out of sync all evening long.
“We are turning a lot of pucks over; we’re not supporting the puck like we should and playing up and down the rink,” said Alex Goligoski who picked up an assist tonight. “We are kind of playing side to side right now and we definitely need to tighten that up.”
Unfortunately for the Penguins when they did have some breakdowns, Marc Andre Fleury was not there to bail them out. He was another Penguin that just seemed to be out of sync this evening having allowed 4 goals on just 14 shots.
That isn’t to say that Fleury was responsible for all of them, but there were definitely two that he needs to make a save on if this team is going to be successful.
“The first power play goal was a tough one, we’re denying the back side and Fleury was responsible for stopping the shot,” Head Coach Dan Bylsma said when specifically asked which goals he would hold Fleury responsible for. “They went cross ice and got the back door, that’s a tough one. The second face-off goal — they won the face-off and shoot it on the ice and it finds a way to get in. There’s a couple there that he’s got to come up with a save for us.”
Though it is almost unfathomable, the Penguins still do not seem to be feeling the pressure of not closing the deal on home ice. Most amongst them seem to be sticking to their stories and will not acknowledge that they are feeling the heat of not picking up that first win in the new building.
“It is something for the media to write about, but no, we don’t feel that way,” Goligoski said when pushed about the subject.
Overall, the evening was a disappointing one for all involved; however the fans did get a couple treats on the night. The first of which was a huge scrap between Deryk Engelland and Colton Orr.
Engelland, who is not afraid to drop the gloves, watched his team fall into an early 1-0 hole and wanted to bring a spark. He went right for Colton Orr, who has long been known for his epic battles with different Penguins including Eric Godard and Georges Laraque.
“That’s part of my job, try to give a spark to my team, we were down by a goal,” said Engelland whose huge final haymaker sent Orr to the ice ending the fight.
The next moment of glee came in the form of Sidney Crosby’s first goal of the season. The Penguins captain took a pass from Ben Lovejoy as he glided across the front of the Maple Leafs’ goal. He quickly went from his forehand to his backhand and shoveled the puck behind Jonas Gustavsson.
Though it is only the fourth game of the season, there is still some concern in the fact that the Penguins have been unable to hold leads, consistently connect on passes and close out opponents. All of which were problems at times last season. Will they get the situation resolved? Time will tell…
A couple quick Leafs notes…
Clarke MacArthur is playing the best hockey of his career and he is doing so at a discount. He was awarded $2.4 million dollars by an arbitrator this summer, but the Atlanta Thrashers walked away from the contract. He signed a $1.1 million dollar deal to come to Toronto and has been money in the Blue and White bank ever since.
Jonas Gustavsson looked more comfortable than the times I got to watch him last season, though he still has some work to do. He seemed to make a few minor mental mistakes with the puck tonight, but the Penguins didn’t make him pay. The Monster’s shining moment came when he made an absolutely sparkling toe save on Pascal Dupuis in during the second period. Dupuis took a cross ice pass and put the shot right where it needed to be, but Gustavsson got his huge leg across to pin it to the ice. Gustavsson’s coach, Ron Wilson was also impressed with what he saw…
“Yes, the first goal wasn’t much, maybe his stick was off the ice but it’s a deflection. In the second goal we weren’t ready on a quick play. He probably wasn’t ready himself. After that he was phenomenal.”
Luke Schenn looks to be much improved. Not that he wasn’t already on his way to being a fine NHL defenseman, but I really think the presence of Dion Phaneuf has had an impact on the youngster.
***I intentionally left any thoughts about the Malkin penalty shot out… I am still trying to get my head around what I saw. Geno did manage 6 more shots on the night and should be sitting in the top 3 in shots on goal… will they start going in the net? We shall see…