Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box of the Penguins' 4-2 setback against the Calgary Flames.
1) “WE DIDN’T SHOW UP”
Sidney Crosby had said Friday that avoiding a letdown after their emotional 4-1 win over the Rangers on Thursday would be key. Unfortunately, they didn’t maintain that same level of desperation and intensity and missed a huge opportunity to get two big points against a struggling team. The captain recalled that in their last meeting with Calgary, the Pens were flat and the Flames made them pay with their speed and skill. That was the case again tonight, as the Pens just seemed off. They didn’t do enough to test inexperienced goalie Joni Ortio and the Flames’ 29th-ranked defense in this game, especially in the first two periods (though it didn’t help they spent four minutes on the penalty kill in the middle frame). Then when the Pens got a power play early in the third, they weren’t able to even the score against the NHL’s 30th-ranked penalty kill and from there, the Flames came away with a win. As Patric Hornqvist put it, “We didn’t show up tonight and that can’t happen. There’s 19 games left in the season and we give them a free one. The standings are way too tight to give the other teams opportunities to climb and get ahead of us. We just have to make sure we show up every night from now on and learn from this.”
2) QUICK RESPONSES
That all being said, the Pens couldn’t have gotten off to a better start in this game. Hornqvist set the tone with a goal just 30 seconds in, and the team seemed to be on the right track in terms of putting their foot on the proverbial throat of the shaky Flames, who had lost seven in a row coming into today – until Calgary responded just 1:28 later. That sequence repeated itself in the second period, when the Pens regained the lead – only to see Calgary tie it within 1:29. The Pens needed to be better about playing with a lead, but they weren’t able to do that. “We’ve been talking about this a lot lately,” Hornqvist said. “In Washington we get up 2-0 and they score the next shift. That can’t happen. We’re never going to win any games, any series, anything that way. It can happen once in a while, but it can’t happen consistently. It’s something we have to be better in. The good thing is we’ve got 19 games left to create that and we know we have a good enough group in here to win a lot of games and series, so just fix those things and go on here.”
3) CONTINUED PRODUCTION
On a positive note, linemates Crosby and Hornqvist continued their torrid production in today’s game as the captain scored both Pens goals with his winger assisting on each one. Crosby said after the Pens’ last game their mindset is “all about getting pucks to the net,” and that’s exactly how they got their two tallies. Crosby's first goal came when his shot bounced off the back boards, deflected off Ortio and into the net. His second came when he perfectly tipped Hornqvist’s slapper from the side of the cage. Head coach Mike Sullivan has been flipping the other winger on their line – Chris Kunitz and Carl Hagelin have been switching – but those two have been a nice constant.