TORONTO - Despite Pittsburgh riding a four-game winning streak, head coach Dan Bylsma isn’t particularly pleased with one specific part of his team’s play of late.
The Penguins' penalty kill gave up two power-play goals in their 5-4 shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Over its past six games, Pittsburgh has allowed 27 goals against — eight of which have come on the penalty kill.
The Leafs scored their first two goals on their first two man-advantage opportunities – and the Penguins’ penalty kill didn’t put up much of a fight either time. James van Riemsdyk scored just 12 seconds into the Leafs’ first power play and Cody Franson scored 17 seconds into the second.
“It was certainly a big factor in the game,” Bylsma said. “We get two power-play goals on us rather quickly in this game…It’s definitely a big part of where we’re at right now.”
The Penguins have now dropped to 23rd on the penalty kill in the NHL at just 78.1 per cent. In recent games, they allowed four power-play goals in a 6-4 loss to the Eastern Conference’s last-place Florida Panthers, then two more in a 5-4 win against division-rivals the Philadelphia Flyers before Toronto’s pair Saturday.
“Special teams and penalty kill, it’s always about the next time over the boards,” Bylsma said. “Obviously, today, in Philadelphia and in Florida, we’ve let in some goals — a number of goals — and those are of concern.”
Pittsburgh’s penalty kill was third overall last season (87.8), first in 2010-11 (86.7) and was ranked among the league’s top-10 teams the two seasons prior.
In 2011-12, they had just 33 power-play goals scored against them in 82 games. But this season, they’ve already allowed 21 goals on the penalty kill in just 25 games, which ties them for third-worst in the NHL. If it were a full 82-game schedule this season, they’d be on pace for nearly 69 allowed.
“We got to find a way to be better there,” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who scored a goal and added another in the shootout to seal the win. “The guys out there are more than willing sacrifice their bodies to block shots and do what’s necessary, but it seems like we’re getting some tough bounces.
“Tonight we laid down to block some shots and the puck ended up on someone’s stick. It’s not for lack of effort. We just got to make sure we’re aware of what we need to do better.”
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