"We can talk about what we look like and what we feel like and all thought type of stuff but Patty (Patrick Maroon) is right, we have to win games," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "Sometimes you have to win ugly, sometimes you need a shot off a shin pad in, that type of stuff, to win games.
"Right now, that's not happening for us."
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his 100th career goal and Leon Draisaitl netted the other tally.
Connor McDavid extended his Penguins point-scoring streak with two assists in the night. He has seven points (2G, 5A) in four career games against the Pens.
Cam Talbot made 27 saves on 30 shots and the Oil won 53 percent of the faceoffs.
The Oilers failed to subdue the Pens' power play, which finished the night 2-for-4 and saw them score the game-deciding goal.
Edmonton got a power play marker of their own from Nugent-Hopkins to finish the night 1-for-5.
"It just comes down to not giving up one late there in the second and then we gave up another one on the PK," said Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse. "We got to clean those up. It's not good enough."
Routinely reduced to McDavid versus Sidney Crosby, the second and final 2017-18 instalment between the Oilers and Penguins saw the battle between the back stoppers continue, as Talbot and Matt Murray made 12 and 10 first-period saves, respectively.
For Murray, his body of work saw stops on Milan Lucic's early backhander, then Drake Caggiula's bouncing puck bat while on the man-advantage.
Talbot, meanwhile, robbed Conor Sheary on the doorstep with his glove after the Penguins forward one-timed a behind-the-net pass from Crosby. The Oilers keeper also made two consecutive saves on Ryan Reaves from the slot and got some luck when Bryan Rust's wrister hit the crossbar and bounced out.
It wasn't until the second period when the offence would come.
Patric Hornqvist put the Pens on the board during a Nugent-Hopkins high-sticking penalty that carried over from the opening frame. Hornqvist, who was screening Talbot, tipped a Kris Letang point shot just 56 seconds in. Letang and Phil Kessel got the assists.
"If we look at the two (power play) goals tonight, the first one, we're in pretty good position," said McLellan. "The last one was the one that was disappointing."
After the Penguins scored, Jake Guentzel was called for two penalties simultaneously - holding and tripping - to give the Oilers a four-minute power play.
With only eight seconds remaining in the four minutes of power-play time, Nugent-Hopkins scored his 100th career goal and fifth of the season. McDavid sifted a pass for Maroon on the goal line but the puck bounced off the end boards and kicked out to Nugent-Hopkins, who put it far side on Murray to even things up at one. The Big Rig extended his point-scoring streak to six games on the play.
"We need to score goals on the power play," said Draisaitl. "Today we scored one but we should have had a few more."
The Oilers made it 2-1 only 50 seconds later when McDavid and Draisaitl linked up to give Edmonton the lead. McDavid undressed Olli Maata, placing the puck between his skates masterfully, then dished it to Draisaitl for a tap-in. The goal was the Deutschland Dangler's second of the season and eighth point, while McDavid netted his second assist of the period.
The stanza wouldn't end without some drama, as the Oilers were forced to kill 1:42 of 5-on-3 time after minors to Zack Kassian and Nurse. Talbot stood tall throughout the ensuing flurry, flashing his glove on a Malkin slap shot then stopping subsequent opportunities from Crosby and Hornqvist.
At the tail end of the kill, Kassian was sprung on a breakaway but Murray stymied the winger from registering his 100th career point.
The Penguins tied the game up before the end of the period. Sheary deposited a backhand pass from Crosby on a 2-on-1 to have the teams exit the middle frame squared up at two.
"It's still a 2-2 game going into the third," said Nurse. "We're in a fine position. We have to get that next one in the third and not give one up. Simple as that."
In the third, Malkin gave Pittsburgh the go-ahead marker while Nugent-Hopkins was in the box. The Russian received a pass from Kessel just inside the O-zone, then had enough space to go glove side on Talbot to make it 3-2.
"We're in position, we have an opportunity to hold the line - we don't - we give the line up and then we get skated on an entry," said McLellan. "That's a very preventable penalty kill situation for me. It's not like they're picking us apart like Dallas did by going through the seams. That is 100 percent preventable on every occasion and we didn't prevent it."
Murray shut the door late in the match, stopping chances from Nugent-Hopkins and Maroon to secure the victory for the visitors.
The Oilers continue their five-game homestand (1-2-0) and host the New Jersey Devils on Friday.