'Unfortunate' Penguins lose to Rangers
Tristan Jarry has done a more-than-respectable job of handling everything opponents have thrown at him in the week-plus he's been the Penguins' de facto No. 1 goaltender.
The one he couldn't handle Tuesday night didn't come off an opponent's stick at all.
A Pavel Buchnevich centering pass banked in off defenseman Kris Letang's skate with less than nine minutes to go in the game Tuesday night, leading the New York Rangers to a 4-3 victory at PPG Paints Arena.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Penguins.
"It's tough. It's one of those unfortunate events that just goes off our own player," Jarry said. "I tried to do my best just to get up as quick as I could and try to get over. It just went right past my head. I wasn't able to get over there."
Trailing 3-2 entering the third period, the Penguins tied the score on a Patric Hornqvist power-play goal less than four minutes in. Hornqvist came off the bench, took a 100-foot breakout pass from Evgeni Malkin to go in on a breakaway and fired a shot past Ondrej Pavelec's glove.
The Rangers retook the lead when a Buchnevich pass from the right wing, intended for defenseman Brendan Smith on the other side of the slot, caromed in off Letang.
"I'm playing the pass for the guy going backdoor," Letang said. "It deflects on me and goes right top shelf."
It was one of the most frustrating nights of the season for the Penguins when it came to finishing chances.
They held a 44-29 advantage in shots and a 76-50 edge in shot attempts. They were facing a backup goalie when red-hot starter Henrik Lundqvist was ruled out with the flu earlier in the day. They lost anyway.
They managed a few goals. Hornqvist made a backhand pass across the face of goal to set up Conor Sheary at the bottom of the right faceoff circle to make it 1-0 in the first period. Kessel finished off a Jake Guentzel pass from behind the net to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead in the second.
But they were agonizingly close to so many more, with Malkin leading the charge.
He had five shots and four other shot attempts. With the Penguins pressing to try to find an equalizer, Malkin hit his second post of the game out of a net-front scramble with 2 minutes, 20 seconds to play.
"He thought it was in the net. We all thought it was in the net," coach Mike Sullivan said. "But I thought he was really good. I thought he was driven. You could see his compete level. He was strong on pucks. When he plays like that, he's hard to handle."
The Penguins fell in love a little too much with their suddenly dominant offense in the latter stages of the second period, however. They pressed too aggressively and gave up a pair of goals to Jesper Fast and Mats Zuccarello on counter-attacking odd-man rushes. The goals, which came in the final eight minutes of the period, gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead heading into the third.
"They're a team that waits for mistakes," Letang said. "That's the type of team they are. They sag back. You feel like you've got more room to make plays and you try and sometimes it doesn't go your way and they get big chances."
The Penguins lost defenseman Justin Schultz to a lower-body injury when he got caught up in a tangle of bodies late in the first period. He tried to return to the ice in the second, but eventually had to retreat to the locker room.
Sullivan said Schultz will be evaluated further on Wednesday.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.