PITTSBURGH (AP) -Maybe fatigue caught up to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Or perhaps the emotion and commitment that carried them through the 303 games they've played the last three seasons simply ran out.
Whatever it was - and it might take months to sort out - there seemed to be something missing nearly all season from a group that expected to win another Stanley Cup but fell far short of doing so.
The Penguins were the NHL's best team during the first month of the season. After that, they never approached that level again.
Their 5-2 loss to Montreal in Game 7 of the conference semifinals on Wednesday was one of the worst big-game performances in franchise history, and it neatly summed up eight months' worth of work. The season that was supposed to be simply never was.