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First Round

Crosby, Penguins face elimination in Game 4 against Islanders

'We haven't left ourselves a lot of room for error', says Pittsburgh captain

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby sees the reality of what the Pittsburgh Penguins face.

"We can't even it up in one game, but we can get ourselves back in it," Crosby said.

After losing 4-1 to the New York Islanders in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round on Sunday, the Penguins are in desperate need of a win, trailing the best-of-7 series 3-0 with Game 4 at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2, ATTSN-PT, MSG, MSG+). 

 

[RELATED: Islanders shut down Penguins in Game 3 | Complete series coverage]

 

Pittsburgh hasn't lost the first three games of a series since being swept by the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Eastern Conference Final.

Teams that trail a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series 3-0 have a series record of 4-186. The Los Angeles Kings are the last team to come back to win four straight, doing so against the San Jose Sharks in the 2014 Western Conference First Round. 

"We just have to worry about one game," Crosby said. "We just have to focus on winning Game 4. We haven't left ourselves a lot of room for error, but all we can control is coming in with the right mindset for Game 4 and finding a way to get a win."

Crosby, who had 100 points (35 goals, 65 assists) in the regular season, does not have a point in the series. He has six shots, eight giveaways and is minus-4.

But Crosby isn't alone. Jake Guentzel, who scored an NHL career-high 40 goals in the regular season, is minus-3 and also does not have a point against the Islanders.

In total, Pittsburgh has been outscored 11-5 through the three games and has held the lead for 3:17.

The Penguins took a 1-0 lead for the second straight game Sunday when Garrett Wilson scored at 12:54 of the first period, but Islanders forward Jordan Eberle tied it 28 seconds later on a sharp angle shot, and Brock Nelson scored 1:02 after that to give New York a 2-1 lead.

Video: NYI@PIT, Gm3: Wilson redirects shot past Lehner

If Pittsburgh is going to find a way to climb back in the series, it will have to find a way to score consecutive goals, something it has yet to do against New York's stingy defense.

"We have to do that to win the series," Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist said. "It has to start here the next game. We'll watch the film tomorrow. We'll learn from what we can learn from it, make sure we're better next game and score more goals."

Like Crosby and Guentzel, Hornqvist doesn't have a point in the series. Forwards Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel each had a goal and an assist in Game 1, but have combined for one assist (from Malkin in Game 2) in the past two games. Defenseman Kris Letang, who had 56 points (16 goals, 40 assists) in 65 regular-season games, has one assist.

While Crosby said he thinks chances have been there, particularly on Sunday, Kessel hasn't seen it the same way.

"[The Islanders] are playing well," Kessel said. "I don't know. I haven't done enough. I guess we just haven't adjusted. ... Obviously, you don't want to be down 3-0. You guys know that. It's not good enough."

Kessel, and the majority of the current Penguins, haven't faced this type of adversity together. Only three players (Crosby, Malkin and Letang) were with Pittsburgh in the 2013 Eastern Conference Final against the Bruins. 

After hiring coach Mike Sullivan on Dec. 12, 2015, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017 before losing in six games to the Washington Capitals in the 2018 Eastern Conference Second Round. Because of that experience, Sullivan doesn't see them going quietly.

"Our guys, they care. They want to win," Sullivan said. "They understand what it takes. So I'm not going to sit here and say they're not buying in. Sometimes hockey, it becomes a game of mistakes sometimes. We just have to do a better job of limiting some of the ones we're making. That's all."

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