Penguins’ Effort Falls Short Against Canucks

The Pittsburgh Penguins suffered their first regulation loss during the month of November on Saturday afternoon as they fell 3-1 to the Vancouver Canucks.  Despite an apparent groin injury to Canuck’s tender Roberto Luongo early in the first period that sidelined the two-time Vezina finalist, Vancouver held the Penguins to just one goal to win their 3rd straight on the road.  With the loss,  the Penguins’ November record stands at 7-1-1 for 15 of 18 possible points.  While it remains one of the best starts for the Penguins in over 20-years, the Penguins lost a little ground in the Eastern Conference to the red-hot Boston Bruins who are 9-0-1 in their last 10-games.  The Penguins (27) trail the Bruins (32) by 5-points with a game in hand.  The Penguins also trail the Rangers (30) by 3-points with 3-games in hand. 

Despite playing well from behind this season, the Penguins ran out of time on Saturday against Vancouver.  After falling behind 2-0 on a goal in each of the 1st and 2nd periods, the Penguins looked like they might bounce back as they scored just 22-seconds into the 3rd to make it a 1-goal game with plenty of time left on the clock.  Mike Zigomanis connected with a wrister on a pass by Tyler Kennedy to beat backup netminder Curtis Sanford.  Alex Goligoski collected the other assist.  But that was all the Penguins could muster against the tight trapping system of the Canucks, despite outshooting them 8-3 in the 3rd.  The Canucks finished the Penguins off with an empty net goal by Pavol Demitra with 12-seconds left to go in the game.  Pavol Demitra also scored the Canucks first goal of the game in the 1st period.  Daniel Sedin got the Canucks 2nd goal in the 2nd period and assisted on the other 2-goals for a 3-point night.  Daniel’s brother Henrik Sedin assisted on all 3-goals.  The line of the Sedin brothers and Pavol Demitra has been one of the NHL’s hottest, combining for 23 points during their past 5-games.  “It’s a great feeling playing with guys like that,” Demitra said. “As a team, we didn’t really give (the Penguins) anything, not even on their power play. Our (penalty) killers were playing great.”  Dany Sabourin stopped 16-of-18 shots that he faced for a 0.89 save percentage.

“It’s a disappointing game for us,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “We didn’t have the right attitude to play that game. They worked harder than us and deserved to win.”  The Penguins had only 11 shots through two periods and were 0-for-4 on the power-play.  The Penguins failed to get a point from Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin for the 2nd time in three games.  It was only the 3rd time this season that both players were held off from the scoring sheet.  “I think when you get chances, you have to put them in,” Crosby said.  “When a team’s playing tight defensively like that, when you get quality chances you have to put them in.  If not, they come back to hurt you.”  The Penguins played most of the game without gritty Matt Cooke after he was ejected from the game just 25-seconds in after a multi-fight melee that sent 3-players from each team into the penalty box.  Jannik Hansen and Matt Cooke both received game misconduct penalties, although it wasn’t entirely clear why Cooke was sent packing. 

The Penguins get a few days off before playing 3-games in 4-nights starting on Wednesday as they travel to New York to take on the Islanders.  They then head to Buffalo to take on the Sabres on Friday night before hosting the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.

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