PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins insist they like everything about Sunday's Game 2 except the final score.
The 3-1 loss to a Montreal team that was clearly on the ropes entering the game -- playing without top defenseman Andrei Markov, who was injured in Game 1, and in front of goalie Jaroslav Halak, who gave up 5 goals before being pulled in the opener -- can not sit well with the defending champions.
That's because they know what it takes to succeed in the playoffs and let a chance slip to put a stranglehold on this series with a win Sunday afternoon at Mellon Arena.
But the Penguins insist it is not time to panic after they fell victim to the brilliance of Halak, who stopped 38 shots, and the explosiveness of Michael Cammalleri, who scored two goals and now leads the playoffs with 8 tallies in as many games.
"We can't get frustrated," veteran forward Bill Guerin said. "We have to believe in what we are doing. I think we gave ourselves a chance. We had a lot of zone time, a lot of shots and a lot of quality shots, and we had the power-play opportunities. So there shouldn't be frustration. I thought we played a good game."
The Penguins actually dominated play when it came to time in the attack zone. But they could not solve Montreal's trap as easily as they did in Game 1 and they were ineffective on the power play, which was the foundation of a dominating 6-3 win in Friday's Game 1.
Pittsburgh scored four power-play goals in as many opportunities on Friday night. Sunday afternoon, the Penguins were 0-for-3 and did not draw their first man-advantage situation until there were just six seconds left in the second period and Montreal was already clinging resolutely to a 2-1 lead generated on a pair of counter-attack goals.
"We got more shots, like we wanted to," Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said. "As a whole, we got the puck to the net and got some good chances; more than we did last game. The only difference was power play-wise we didn't execute as well. Even strength, I thought we did a good job of generating things."
So, what was the difference with the power play this time around after its lethal performance in Game 1?
A mere matter of inches, argued Crosby. He said that all the things that went right Friday did not break in their favor Sunday afternoon.
"We still had some chances around the net, pucks go through the crease," Crosby said. "It is just a matter of inches; that's what it comes down to. It's just a matter of getting shots away and figuring out ways to get rebounds and things like that. It's a very small margin for error, and we weren't able to get it done today."
Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said his club passed the puck around the box a bit too much, passing up some shots to try to get better position. He added Friday's power plays all featured shots within seven seconds of gaining entry into the Montreal zone. That quick-strike mindset was absent Sunday afternoon.
Make no mistake, though, Montreal had something to do with Pittsburgh's struggles to generate offense on the power play.
The Canadiens played more aggressively on the kill Sunday night as their forwards stepped up into the neutral zone to try to take away Pittsburgh's speed as it entered the attacking zone. The defensemen, meanwhile, were more cognizant in blocking out Pittsburgh's net-front presence and clearing away rebounds.
"You have to give credit where credit is due," Guerin said. "They did a good job of clearing guys out and we didn't jump on some of those loose pucks."
But as Guerin said earlier, this is not a time to panic. A win in Game 3 puts the Penguins back in charge of this series.
"I think the most important part is continuing to try to get to our game and continue to play it and get better at it -- not get frustrated, not let the fact that they defend well around their goaltender when they are playing that style of game," Bylsma said.
"We just have to keep at it, keep focused on it and not get frustrated with not being able to penetrate at times. We need to keep working to execute and do things differently."