Pittsburgh Penguins Can Learn Lessons From Rough Night Against Dallas


Oct 16, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Pascal Dupuis (9) is help by teammate Evgeni Malkin (71) after being injured during the second period of an NHL game against the Dallas Stars at Consol Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports

Let the record show that Mike Johnston’s Pittsburgh Penguins faced their first dose of adversity three games into the 2014-15 season.

They actually got a double shot of it Thursday night, as not only did Pascal Dupuis leave the game with a frightening injury, but also the Stars netted two goals in the final three minutes to steal two points from the Pens at Consol Energy Center.

While the stunning regulation loss stings in the moment, perhaps Johnston and the Penguins (2-1-0, 4 points) are fortunate such a collapse happened early in the season instead of late. Defeats in October count the same as in March, but the ones in the fall tend to resonate more because they’re harder to shrug off as a fluke when the sample size is so small.

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Especially under a new coaching staff, habits are being formed right now. Johnston has frequently mentioned the Pens’ need to make better decisions with the puck in the opening weeks of the season, and the negative feedback provided by the Stars’ comeback can only reinforce that Thursday’s performance was not good enough.

Despite the twist ending, the Penguins did a lot of positive things in their third game of the regular season. The power play continues to generate chances and goals – it’s now 6 for 13 to start the year after connecting twice against Dallas – and Pittsburgh had a few even-strength opportunities to extend the lead in the second period.

Coincidentally, one of those missed chances directly led to Dupuis’ fearful situation. The 35-year-old winger, just 2 1/2 games into his comeback from major knee surgery, hit the post on Evgeni Malkin‘s behind-the-net setup. Moments later, Dupuis was knocked down by Alex Goligoski‘s crosscheck, which put him in the way of Kris Letang‘s slap shot that struck him in the back of the neck.

Preliminary reports revealed that Dupuis regained feeling in his extremities prior to arriving at a Pittsburgh hospital, but the Pens understandably appeared shaken by the injury. Tough to worry too much about the game when one of your teammates was in distress flat on his back just moments earlier.

While we await further word on Dupuis’ condition, maybe it’s for the best to look ahead to Saturday’s confrontation against the 4-0 Islanders. The Penguins are fortunate they can get back on the ice so soon after a rough night all around.