Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 3-2 loss to Dallas…
Pens captain Sidney Crosby talked yesterday about how once you start getting to this time of year, little mistakes or flaws in execution can end up in the back of your net. That's exactly what happened as the Stars scored three unanswered goals in the third period to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead. For example, on the game-winner, during a routine regroup a Pens defenseman pushed the puck up into the neutral zone to no one as his team was changing. The Stars picked it up, skated in and put it in the back of the net. "We made mistakes," Crosby said. "We can't give them life."
Then it just felt like the Stars wanted it more than the Pens. Their desperation level wasn't where it needed to be, and that's both concerning and disappointing at this time of year. "We just got outplayed," head coach Mike Sullivan said of the third. "We've got to hang onto pucks, we've got to play behind them, I don't think we managed the puck very well, I don't think we won enough puck battles and as a result, we let them come at us. They ratcheted up their intensity level."
This is the first time in two years that the Pens have lost a game in regulation when leading after two periods. Until tonight, the Pens had been 54-0 under Sullivan and 65-0 overall over that span. It's something the Pens haven't experienced in a while, and something they don't want to experience again any time soon. "Every time you're put in that position, you've got to do the little things it takes to defend that lead and we didn't do that tonight," Crosby said. "We were playing a little more risky than we needed to, probably, with a two-goal lead in the third."
What made the result even more disappointing was how the Pens commanded the game through two periods. Even though they were outshot 21-15 through 40 minutes, they had the edge on chances and possession - led by Jake Guentzel, who built on his impressive Stadium Series performance with another strong game. He scored once, but could have had at least three with the opportunities he was getting. He was hard on himself after the game about not putting those in, but I thought the fact he was in and around the net creating so much was a positive.