Penguins' power play falls flat again
Rarely has such a mighty power play looked so lifeless.
The Boston Bruins handed the Penguins numerous opportunities to win Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final, but the power play that was so lethal all season let down the Penguins again in a 2-1 setback at TD Garden that likely has crippled their dream season.
“We had the puck on the stick of people in places where we wanted them to be,” coach Dan Bylsma said.
The Penguins went 0 for 6 on the power play, including a chance in overtime and another in double overtime. Boston twice was caught with too many men on the ice, but even then the Penguins couldn't score with the man advantage.
“You better score on the power play when you get that many chances,” said defenseman Kris Letang, who fired eight shots on net. “We were not good enough.”
The Penguins' biggest names participate on the power play but proved fruitless against a Bruins penalty-killing unit that entered the series killing 81 percent of penalties, a solid but hardly spectacular percentage.
The Penguins entered the game having accumulated the second-best power-play percentage in the regular season and the top mark in the postseason.
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, James Neal and Kris Letang composed the top power-play unit. All had chances. None buried one.
The Penguins entered the series clicking at 28.2 percent on the power play. Against the Bruins, they are 0 for 12.
“Getting one would have made the difference,” Bylsma said.
In the second period the Penguins had three opportunities. Never was their power play incompetence more noticeable than late in that period.
With the game tied, 1-1, the Penguins essentially were handed a lengthy five-on-three.
Boston penalty killer Gregory Campbell blocked a shot and remained on the ice for about 10 seconds. Even after Campbell made it to his feet, the center was incapable of making his way to the bench.
But the Penguins never mustered a quality scoring opportunity. Malkin had a shot blocked and missed the net on another occasion. Letang also missed the net during a sequence in which Crosby simply stood on the left side of the ice.
“You can say whatever you want,” Letang said. “We should be able to score goals when we have that many chances.”
Letang, though, doesn't believe the power play is broken. “There is nothing wrong with it,” he said.
The Penguins' second power-play unit actually was more productive.
Rookie Beau Bennett nearly scored on two occasions. He twice got open down low and cut in front of Tuukka Rask, attempting a wrap-around on one occasion and nearly scoring on a forehand deke on the other.
“We had so many good looks all night on the power play,” right wing Jarome Iginla said. “We really did, and on most nights, I really believe a lot of those pucks go in.”
But not on this night, and not in this series.