Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins' 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
- This was an interesting one to assess.
One on hand, the Penguins were facing their toughest test yet on the injury front - playing without Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and Patric Hornqvist. And despite having a depleted lineup, they showed some resilience battling back to get a point - breaking their power-play slump along the way.
But on the other hand, they found themselves in yet another multi-goal deficit for the fourth straight game, a habit that has the players starting to get frustrated - with Jared McCann saying they know they can't keep coming out like this, and that they've got to fix it.
"There was some good and there was some not so good," Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. "That's what I told the guys after the game. I said, 'The lesson learned is that we've got to have a better start. That doesn't matter who's in our lineup. There's no excuse for that. We've all got to be better.' I give our guys a lot of credit for climbing back in the game. I thought we played hard moving forward. But we've got to try to play a full 60."
- To be fair, Sullivan and the coaching staff haven't necessarily been displeased with the Penguins' starts until tonight. They feel like for the most part, the team has been ready to play from the drop of the puck, they just haven't always been on the right side of the score coming out of the first period. Tonight, that wasn't the case.
"It's about a mindset before the puck drops," Sullivan said. "We weren't ready to play. They were ready to play. They outplayed us in the first period."
If it weren't for the play of Matt Murray, the deficit could have been a lot worse than 2-0. The Rangers spent most of the opening frame in the offensive zone and challenged Murray with some high-quality chances. His teammates might not have been ready to play, but Murray was definitely sharp from the start.
"Without Murr, the game would have been out of control," McCann said. "He kept us in there. It's frustrating that we couldn't get it for him."
Murray always seems to shine bright in the World's Most Famous Arena. He is now 5-0-1 in his career at Madison Square Garden and 6-0-2 overall against the Rangers.
- The Penguins' long national nightmare is finally over, as they finally scored a power-play goal on their third man-advantage of the game. McCann was the one who snapped their scoreless streak at 0-for-28, the longest such stretch in franchise history.
"It's a good feeling," Sullivan said. "I was happy for the players. Because I know they want to score. It's been a little bit of a struggle. It wasn't the prettiest goal but usually that's how it happens. We're going to try to build on that."
What finally got the puck in the net was a combination of doggedness, luck and just a well-placed shot from McCann.
"Just a shoot-first mentality," McCann said. "We practice that a lot and it's something that we need to get better at."
The power-play marker came 12:33 into the second period, while Justin Schultz got the Penguins on the board just 1:13 into the frame.