Penguins blanked at Boston in first game of doubleheader


The Penguins’ struggles continue as they dropped the first game of the home-and-home set against the Boston Bruins by a 3-0 score.  The shutout marked the third time this season the Penguins have been blanked.

In a time where the organization is going through a severe rough patch with a lack of results, the talk about good effort goes out of the window.

“Our effort is there, but we don’t play as smart as we can,” head coach Mike Sullivan told the Penguins’ website.  “We need to focus on the details of playing the right way.”

“Part of the solution is to simplify. We need to shoot the puck more. We’ve got to become a resilient group. No excuses.”

Early on in the game, the Penguins did not allow a shot on goal for the first 7:30 in the game.  However, a Brian Dumoulin turnover in the neutral zone sprung former Penguin Max Talbot free on a two-on-one and he cashed in with a shot top right corner at 9:52 in the first period to start the scoring.

Despite holding the Bruins shot less for an extended stretch in the first period, the Bruins managed to outshoot the Penguins 10-6 at the end of the first frame.

Moving on to the second period, the Penguins were much better in terms of generating shots.  After being outshot 10-6 in the first, they came out strong in the second to record an 18-4  shots on goal advantage. Unfortunately, one of those four shots ended up in the back of their net.

Ryan Spooner swung wide left near the corner to try to generate a look and he found Jimmy Hayes on the doorstep at 4:00 of the second period to increase their lead to 2-0.  The pass appeared to have ricocheted off of Penguins defenseman Ian Cole and then off of Jimmy Hayes before the puck squeaked past the goal line.

After the goal was scored, coach Sullivan decided to challenge the goal due to goaltender interference.  After the referees got together at the scorer’s table to look at the replay, it was determined that there was no goaltender interference.  Therefore, the call on the ice stood as called and the Penguins were charged their one and only timeout.

Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff played better as the game progressed, but the third period would spell trouble for the Penguins.  Patric Hornqvist received a questionable penalty for cross-checking Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid on his way back to the bench.

Coach Sullivan waved Zatkoff to the bench to bring on the fifth attacker, and the Penguins set up their offense.  The Bruins would retrieve the puck quickly as Loui Eriksson found Patrice Bergeron at the blue line.  Bergeron proceeded to fire the puck off of the bench boards right to the stick of Ryan Spooner and he sealed the deal with a power play empty netter to make the score 3-0.

Zatkoff recorded 26 saves on 28 shots for the loss.  The loss puts him at 2-2-1 on the season.

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Some Bright Spots:

1. Conor Sheary

Sheary, who was recalled from AHL Wilkes-Barre, made his NHL debut tonight registering 16:41 (1:50 on power play, 0:13 shorthanded) of ice time.  Even though he didn’t contribute that much statistic wise, he showed a lot of poise during his debut.  He displayed silky smooth hands to go along with blazing speed through the neutral zone and fired three shots on goal with two hits.  Sheary was one of the best players for the Penguins tonight, and fans should be excited about him for years to come.

2. Opportunities Came In Bunches

The Penguins generated their fair of scoring opportunities tonight, but could not inch the puck past Rask.  For instance, Kessel broke loose on a power play and hit the crossbar as he was aiming for the top right corner.  Chris Kunitz was somehow left wide open for a breakaway on Rask and he looked for the top left corner, but as what Kessel did, Kunitz did the same by ringing the crossbar. This could be attributed to the crisp breakouts out of their zone to transition to their offense.

The One Not-So-Bright Spot

1. Power Play Continues to be Anemic

The Penguins were 0-3 tonight on the power play, and with the talent that they have spread throughout the two power play units, there is no reason the struggles should continue (especially with Trevor Daley as a potential quarterback of a power play unit). They did a good job of moving their feet and catching the Bruins flat-footed at times, but when your power play is now 28th in the league, it’s hard to have confidence right now.  The Penguins have scored more than two goals in 11 games thus far,  proving that when this team converts on the power play, it jump starts the scoring.

Next: Riverhounds sign affiliation agreement with Columbus Crew

The Penguins are back in action Friday night against the Boston Bruins at CONSOL Energy Center.