Shawn Horcoff’s hat-trick Tuesday night propelled the Edmonton Oilers to a 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena.
The Penguins (11-22-9) struggled to get much of anything going on the night as the Oilers dominated play.
“I am not impressed. It’s a pathetic performance. Half of the team doesn’t care,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “That defensive squad; I am really starting to believe their goal is to be the worst defensive squad in the league. They are doing such a great job to be the worst defensive squad in the league. They turn the puck over; they have no vision; they are soft. I have never seen a bunch of defensemen as soft as this.
“There are a lot of guys who don’t care. They pretend to care, but I know they don’t care,” he continued. “What’s the solution? We’re going to find the solution."
Horcoff’s short-handed goal gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead over the Penguins at the first intermission.
Horcoff tallied on a three-on-one as he kept the puck and his wrister just trickled through Marc-Andre Fleury’s leg pads and into the goal with 3:48 left in the period. It was the second quality Oilers short-handed scoring chance as Fleury denied a breakaway nearly a minute earlier.
Neither team scored in the second period. Edmonton, however, had a good chance with less than two minutes to go. On a short-handed two-on-one break, Fleury made a sprawling leg save to deny an Oiler.
“Marc is playing good for us,” Therrien said. “Thank God.”
Horcoff scored 44 seconds into the third period to give Edmonton a 2-0 lead. He broke through the Pittsburgh defense and backhanded a shot past Fleury.
Ryan Malone got the Penguins on the scoreboard with 12:30 to play when he deflected Josef Melichar’s slap-shot from the far point over the right shoulder of goaltender Jussi Markkanen.
The goal seemed to give the Penguins a lift, but they could not seize the momentum.
“Are we going to be happy to play eight minutes? I am not going to be happy to play eight minutes,” Therrien said. “Those guys; [we should] save 50 percent of their salary because they only play for 50 percent of the time.”
Horcoff completed the hat-trick with 55 seconds to play when he wristed a power-play goal past Fleury.
“It’s a game of emotion; it’s a game of hard work; it’s a game of passion,” Therrien said. “[Atlanta’s Ilya] Kovalchuk, what he did the other day – there’s not one guy [from the Penguins] who was close to doing something [about Kovalchuk’s taunting gesture after a goal]. Maybe Maxime Talbot at the end with one second left.
“Did they think that, as a coach, I think the team cared about each other? Wow,” he continued. “I tried to have a good ambience with the team Monday [with a light practice]. So, I guess we’re going to have to come back with the old recipe. They make my job miserable. So, it’s give and take. What can I do?
“I am so disappointed about a lot of guys. I am very disappointed because they don’t care if they care. Tonight, it looked like men against boys.”
Fleury stopped 28 of 31 shots, while Markkanen stopped 17 of 18 shots.
The Penguins begin a three-game roadtrip on Wednesday in Columbus.
ICE CHIPS: Andre Roy and Lyle Odelein were the Penguins’ healthy scratches…The announced attendance was 14,905.