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Snap Shots: Hurricanes 6, Penguins 2

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins' 6-2 loss against the Carolina Hurricanes at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday.

* It's not time to panic. But it is time for urgency.

All seemed to be going right for Pittsburgh for much of the regular season. Despite mounting injuries to key positions, the Penguins still managed to climb all the way to the top of the Metro Division. Then a six-game losing streak halted the team's advancement.

The Penguins appeared to right the ship with two consecutive wins. But subsequent back-to-back losses have the Penguins once again trying to find a way to get out of the funk and course correct. There are only 14 games remaining in the season. Time is running out.

It's not time to panic. But it is time for urgency.

* I wrote a story earlier in the year about the Penguins' blueprint for success. It was their game plan for dealing with the mass of injuries. Pittsburgh followed that script perfectly, and it put them within striking distance of capturing the division. It's time for the team to revisit that script.

"The answers are inside our dressing room," head coach Mike Sullivan said after the game. "I believe in this group. I believe we have what it takes. We just have to find a way to pull ourselves together."

If there is any solace during this stretch, it's knowing that the Penguins have shown they can play the right way. Now they've got to prove it again. And it all starts with simplifying their game. That was the message for Sullivan to his players following the game.

"The responsibility falls on me to try and sell the message so that we buy in," Sullivan said. "I know we're capable of more. It's my job to bring it out of them."

* The Penguins had a strong start and managed to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission against Carolina. But the same issues that have plagued the team of late arose once again. Turnovers, bad decisions, miscommunication, lack of pushback.

After the Hurricanes tied the game at 2-2 late in the second period it appeared the Penguins lost their fight. Carolina scored five unanswered goals en route to the blowout.

The Penguins' work ethic is there. They're playing hard. But they haven't been playing smart. And you can't have success without both elements.

* Following the Penguins' Saturday loss to Washington, center Evgeni Malkin said the team was "asleep" during the first period. Anytime a star player speaks up like that, you can expect them to back it up the next game on the ice.

Malkin did just that. He scored a power-play goal in the first period to extend his scoring streak to four games (2G-6A). At one point in the third period he tried to singlehandedly will the Penguins back into the game trying to beat three players by himself. He nearly succeeded in doing so. But in the end, it wasn't enough.

* At age 11, Patrick Marleau adopted the Penguins as his favorite team. Thirty years later, he scored his first career goal with his boyhood team.

The Aneroid, Saskatchewan native jumped onto the ice during a line change and collected a pass from Conor Sheary. Coming at full speed, Marleau was able to split the defense and carry to the net where he whipped a hard backhand far side into the goal.

Video: CAR@PIT: Marleau buries first goal with Penguins

* Evan Rodrigues had his best game as a Penguin. He drew three penalties, was a force on the penalty kill and nearly potted his first goal with the club shorthanded. However the shot rang off the post. Rodrigues brings a lot of energy to the lineup, and looks like a nice pickup by the Penguins.

* Goaltender Tristan Jarry made some nice saves in the game. He also surrendered a few goals that he would like to have back. Carolina's second goal was backbreaking. It was a weak shot from the point by Jaccob Slavin. The Penguins never recovered. Jarry needs to make that save. That's the clutch save the Penguins need right now.

Pittsburgh is hoping that either Matt Murray or Jarry will emerge as the No. 1 goalie and take the job. Right now, neither has really separated himself. The Penguins have two netminders that have the ability to be difference-makers in a game. They just need one of them to take over.

 

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