The Penguins went an entire month without knowing what losing feels like. In fact, it would be hard to blame them if they had forgotten the feeling all together.
But after a 15-0 run that tied for the second longest in NHL history, the Penguins have now tasted back-to-back defeats after dropping a 6-1 game to Atlantic Division rival New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night.
Now they remember. And they don't like it.
"It's battle level and execution. We can't play that way," Pascal Dupuis said. "Everybody is saying we're good and going to win. We have to make it happen on the ice. It won't be handed to us, that's for sure."
"We have to find ways to do better than that," Brandon Sutter said. "To a man here we know that's unacceptable. I can't explain why or why it went that way the last two games, but whatever it is we have two days to figure it out."
And they’re hoping to forget it when these two teams meet again in a grudge match Friday night in Pittsburgh.
"We want to get back into it and play again," Sutter said. "I'm looking forward to playing the next one. Hopefully, we come out a lot harder."
The Penguins had won seven straight games against the Rangers when the two teams started the night. But this isn’t the same Rangers team in those previous seven games. Actually, this isn’t even the same Rangers team from two days ago.
New York general manager Glen Sather made two trades – acquiring Ryane Clowe from San Jose for four drafts picks (two second-, third- and conditional-round picks) and adding Derek Dorsett, Derick Brassard, John Moore and sixth-round pick from Columbus for Marian Gaborik.
Three of those new acquisitions – Clowe, Brassard, Moore – were in the lineup against the Penguins. And after one game, they’ve made their general manager look like a genius.
Clowe, who went scoreless in his first 28 games of the season with San Jose, not only broke the goose egg, he scored two goals and added an assist for three points. Clowe also played with grit and sandpaper, notching four hits and a blocked shot.
Brassard scored a goal and added three assists for four points while winning 73 percent of his faceoffs.
Moore scored his first goal with the Rangers halfway through the third period when his heavy slap shot found its way through to the net.
Together Clowe, Brassard and Moore combined for eight points (4G-4A).
The Penguins penalty killing unit was a major factor in the team’s 15-game winning streak. The Penguins PKers had killed off 28 of the last 30 times shorthanded heading into the game.
However, the Rangers power play came up with three goals on four opportunities. Special teams was ultimately the biggest difference in the contest. New York got off to a hot start when Brian Boyle deflected a Brad Richards slap shot into the net halfway through the first period to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. The Rangers were off and running from there.
"We got beat by a team that competed harder," head coach Dan Bylsma said. "It was pretty much from the drop of the puck. They forced us into turnovers and put us back on our heels. Their power play went three for four, that's a big part of the game, but it wasn't the only part. They came at us aggressively. Six against is something to be concerned about."
Pascal Dupuis scored his third goal in the past four games.
Brenden Morrow assisted on Dupuis’ second-period goal. It is his first assist/point as a Penguin. It was also his first point since March 7.
Mart Eaton was scratched due to an illness.
Author: Sam Kasan