-- Several members of the Pittsburgh Penguins
accentuated the positive after a 4-3 shootout loss Wednesday night to the Washington Capitals
was not one of them.
While others were happy with the effort, the veteran defenseman was not in a mood to accept moral victories.
"Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I'm getting tired of hearing we played hard and we should have deserved better," Orpik said. "We're not winning hockey games and that's what it comes down to. I don't feel very good leaving the rink when you lose, no matter how you played."
The defending Stanley Cup champions lost for the sixth time in eight games, including their third in as many tries this season against the team that could secure the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference as early as tonight.
Two of the losses against the Capitals have come after regulation, just as three of the six defeats in their recent funk have. Of course, there are no points awarded for overtime losses once the postseason begins.
"Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I'm getting tired of hearing we played hard and we should have deserved better. We're not winning hockey games and that's what it comes down to. I don't feel very good leaving the rink when you lose, no matter how you played."
-- Brooks Orpik
"I'm getting very concerned," Orpik said. "Everyone wants to talk about the playoffs already and we still have eight games to go here and we're not exactly playing too well. The way we're playing now, we'll be out in the first round. It's getting pretty frustrating."
Other Penguins did take solace in the team's improved effort after a listless 3-1 defeat in Detroit and atypically generic play during the past two weeks. The Penguins controlled the contest for long stretches at even strength and outshot the Capitals 42-32. This was most evident in the first period when Pittsburgh had a 17-9 advantage in shots. Washington goaltender Jose Theodore
made a few great saves, including dandy stops on Matt Cooke
's one-timer in the slot and Ruslan Fedotenko
's rebound try or Pittsburgh would have likely broken the 0-0 tie.
"For a lot of reasons, that's the type of game we expect from our team and how we can play," coach Dan Bylsma
said. "From the way we started and played through the first to the way we responded when things didn't go our way and sticking with it and getting a big goal from Jordan Staal
[in the third], that is the way we need to play."
Added captain Sidney Crosby
: "We created some great chances. As the game went on, it got more intense. They came out hard in the third, but we stuck with it. It would have been nice to get two points, but we did a lot of good things.”
A strong night in the puck possession department led to a decisive advantage in power-play time. The Penguins drew five penalties while taking only one.
Playing without Evgeni Malkin
has been troublesome, especially on the power play. Pittsburgh scored its first power-play goal in 11 contests this season without the 2009 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, but the Penguins also gave up a shorthanded goal to ignite Washington's rally.
"Hockey is a game of mistakes," defenseman Kris Letang
said. "You're not going to play 60 perfect minutes every night, but I think we are where we should be. We kept playing the same way until the end and got a point at the end."
Gaining a point pushed the Penguins back into first place in the Atlantic Division, but the New Jersey Devils
have two games in hand and every loss, regulation or not, is a lost opportunity to keep pace in the division title hunt.
Maybe more importantly, there are only eight games left to refine their play before the title defense commences.
"I'm more concerned about the way our team is playing," Bylsma said. "We played the team with the most points in the league tonight, and I don't think you're going to win every game against them. They're a good team and they're dangerous, but the way we played - that's the way we need to play."