KANATA, Ontario — The Penguins apparently felt their penalty kill, which has shown cracks the last three weeks, needed a lot of extra work Wednesday night.
Jeff Carter sat in the box for a careless swing of his stick and watched the Ottawa Senators score twice. Mark Friedman once again crossed the line. Bryan Rust had to sweat out another double minor after he lost his cool with a referee.
All and all, they took nine penalties Wednesday at Canadian Tire Centre and spent nearly 13 of the game’s first 44 minutes shorthanded. That would have been even higher had they not surrendered a season-high four power-play goals.
The Penguins somehow managed to grab one point in the standings anyway. But lost, 5-4, in overtime when Brady Tkachuk got the winner just seconds in.
The only reason the Penguins were still hanging around in the third period was the atrocious play of Senators goalie Cam Talbot, who couldn’t catch a cold.
After Jason Zucker made it 1-0 in the first period by banging in a loose puck when Talbot muffed a routine catch, a parade to the sin bin ensued, with seven penalties and a trio of power-play tallies between the teams during that period.
The home team scored twice after Carter was assessed a double minor for high sticking. Alex DeBrincat quickly pumped one past Casey DeSmith, making his third straight start. Right before Carter escaped from the penalty box, Tim Stutzle stepped around Sidney Crosby put a shot past DeSmith’s blocker to make it 2-1.
Evgeni Malkin tied it up a few minutes later. He drew a pair of penalties, along with the ire of Senators fans, who lustily booed Malkin when he touched the puck. They got quiet when he scored a similar goal to Zucker’s on a 5-on-3.
Wednesday was the third game in a row that the Penguins were given an extended two-man advantage. It was far from pretty but they finally capitalized on one.
Early in the second, the Penguins grabbed a lead that was perhaps undeserved when Friedman scored his first goal of the season. Talbot came up empty handed on another catch, examining his glove afterwards in search of a hole.
That lead was short-lived. The Senators soon got their third power-play goal.
The Penguins, who had one of the NHL’s top penalty kills throughout November and December, has regressed since the Christmas break. Wednesday night, they allowed multiple power-play goals for the second consecutive game.
Whether it was seam passes across the zone, stick-handling penetration or chaos created by a point shot, the Senators routinely found space inside the diamond formation of the Penguins, again down three of their top defensemen.
But all of those penalties were a bigger problem than their porous penalty kill.
At 5-on-5, the Senators routinely beat their forecheck and carried play. That led to a few of the holding and stick-related penalties that shorthanded the Penguins for stretches. But they probably felt a few calls should have gone their way.
The Penguins started the third period with Rust in the penalty box. He got called for hooking then had another two minutes tacked on after he barked at an official. DeSmith helped the penalty kill survive that without another goal against.
The Senators took back the lead later in the third, with Pierre-Olivier Joseph in the box for a penalty that the young defenseman politely protested. Shane Pinto cut inside on Brian Dumoulin then fluttered a shot beyond DeSmith’s glove.
However, the resilient Penguins got a quick response from Rickard Rakell, whose spinning shot on the power play squeaked through Talbot for the tying goal.
That ensured they would not leave Ottawa frustrated but not empty-handed.
— Injured Penguins forward Ryan Poehling, defensemen Kris Letang and Jeff Petry and goalie Tristan Jarry all took part in the morning skate. For the three skaters, it was in a non-contact capacity. None suited up against the Senators.
— Forward Josh Archibald and defenseman Jan Rutta also sat out the game.
— Pittsburgh’s healthy scratches were forward Danton Heinen and defenseman Taylor Fedun. Rookie Jonathan Gruden centered the fourth line again.
— The Penguins for the 10th time this season had multiple power-play goals.
— Scorching hot, Zucker has scored six goals in 10 games since Christmas.
The Penguins are scheduled to practice Thursday in Cranberry but the coaching staff could bag it with the team in the middle of a stretch of nine games in 16 days. They will host the Senators for a rematch Friday at PPG Paints Arena.
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