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Penguins notebook: Team not satisfied with multi-goal losses

| Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, 10:24 p.m.

No NHL team has scored more goals than the Penguins during the last three seasons. Those goals, though, typically only come when the Penguins already are ahead.

The Penguins have proven terrific front-runners, but have developed a recent history of letting deficits get out of hand.

“Some nights,” left wing Tanner Glass said, “we don't mentally have it. It's concerning.”

The Penguins have lost only 17 times during the past two regular seasons, second only to Chicago.

However, of those 17 losses, eight times the Penguins have lost by three goals or more. Only four of those losses have been by one goal, the most recent example coming on Wednesday when the Penguins were unable to capitalize on a strong start and eventually found themselves blown out of Madison Square Garden in a 5-1 Rangers win.

Only once in the past two seasons have the Penguins rebounded from a multiple-goal deficit in the third period to win.

“We were playing well, carrying the play,” Glass said of Wednesday's game. “Then, our second period was so subpar. The execution of our plan was poor. To me, that's not a resilient team or a team that's confident when it's down by two.”

Many Penguins players said Thursday that too many players pull away from the team's system when facing a deficit, instead of merely showing patience.

“I think that could be,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “We were peppering the Rangers. Once we got behind, we have this attitude that we can always come back. We open it up more instead of just playing as though it were tied.”

Most teams speak of wanting to play better with a lead.

And naturally, Niskanen prefers having the lead, but he would like to see the Penguins improve when facing adversity.

“I think it's an area where we need to get better,” Niskanen said. “We just need to keep playing the way we normally would play when we're down, 2-0. We should be able to get two goals if we keep playing that way.”

Neal back at practice

Right wing James Neal, injured early in the season-opener against New Jersey, practiced with the Penguins Thursday at Southpointe.

There is no timeline for his return, but Neal reported feeling well after a fairly rigorous skate.

“I feel pretty good for only skating three times,” he said.

Neal admitted frustration after suffering an injury on opening night, but he doesn't intend to play until his body is ready. Neal said he isn't sure when he will play in a game.

“I'll determine that after a solid week of skating,” Neal said.

Linemate Evgeni Malkin is enduring some well chronicled struggles with Neal out of the lineup. The former 40-goal scorer said Malkin isn't pressuring him to come back.

“He's pretty quiet,” Neal said. “Me and ‘G' have a good chemistry. We miss each other when we're out of the lineup.”

Injury updates

Right wing Pascal Dupuis received a “maintenance day” after not playing in the third period against the Rangers. .. Defenseman Paul Martin also received a “maintenance day.” ... Left wing Beau Bennett practiced again and could play against St. Louis on Saturday.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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