PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins came out flat. Again.
The Penguins have started slowly in more than half of their seven Stanley Cup Playoff games, but they took it to another level early on in an eventual 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series Friday.
The Penguins possibly played their least effective period of the postseason in the game's opening 20 minutes, resulting in a 2-0 deficit entering the first intermission. They were outshot 13-8 and seemed less like the team that had three days to rest and more like the one playing a third game in four days, as the Rangers were.
Pittsburgh responded with one of its better periods, drawing even at 2-2 heading into the third period, but cooled again before losing on Derick Brassard's overtime goal.
Against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round, the Penguins faced multigoal deficits twice and won three games in which they surrendered the opening goal. They were not as fortunate against New York and realize they cannot consistently rely on come-from-behind wins if they are to advance to the Eastern Conference Final.
"Anytime you lose one game in a series where four knocks you out, I think your desperation just naturally goes up that much more," Pittsburgh defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "You want to play with it all the time, but the fact is, once you lose games in the playoffs and you start to feel the grip of death on your season, you start to play with a little more desperation.
"We're one loss closer to being out, and I hope we bring that level on the next game."