Penalties spur Pens' unraveling
COLUMBUS, Ohio — When the Penguins are at their worst, they're usually in the penalty box — a lot.
Despite members of management — to say nothing of the players — being furious with a number of calls made during Game 4 on Wednesday, the Penguins' inability to stay out of the penalty box triggered their undoing as the Columbus Blue Jackets rallied for a 4-3 overtime victory.
“That was big,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “They (the Blue Jackets) were coming hard. And a lot of that was the eight minutes (of penalty time in the second period).”
The Penguins couldn't have been in any better control of the game late in the first period, when defenseman David Savard slashed left wing Chris Kunitz on the right arm.
TV microphones picked up the sound of Kunitz screaming in pain. Kunitz fell to the ice and swung his arm after the slash. Officials called Savard for slashing. However, they also penalized Kunitz for embellishment, evening up the play.
At the time, the Penguins were working on a power play and looking to take a 4-0 lead. They would have had a 5-on-3 power play for more than a minute had Kunitz not been penalized.
“I'm sure they were disappointed with some of the calls, too,” center Joe Vitale said. “But you know, we've got to stay out of the box. It's been a problem.”
Another big name joined Kunitz in the box moments later. With the Penguins working on a 4-on-4 situation, right wing James Neal — he and Kunitz scored earlier in the period — was called for interference, giving the Blue Jackets their second power play of the period.
It was the life Columbus needed.
“It's on us tonight,” right wing Lee Stempniak said. “We shouldn't lose that game.”
The Penguins have been guilty all season of taking offensive-zone penalties and took two at an inopportune time. Forward Boone Jenner, whose net-front presence drew a penalty earlier in the first period, scored the goal that gave the Blue Jackets hope.
They received far more hope — and a bushel of power plays — in the second period, when the Penguins were short-handed four more times.
Stempniak was given a four-minute penalty for a high-stick infraction, and in the early stages of that penalty kill, center Brandon Sutter was penalized for shooting the puck over the glass.
Sutter, who rarely complains to officials, vehemently denied the call to no avail.
With the Penguins down by two men for two minutes, they finally allowed a goal as center Ryan Johansen scored on a tap-in to pull the Blue Jackets within one.
The Penguins weren't done being generous. Niskanen was called for tripping with two minutes remaining in the second period. With the crowd on its feet for the entire two minutes, the Penguins' penalty killers — looking exhausted — and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury were able to send the game to the third period with the lead still intact.
“When you're in the box all the time it hurts because it keeps your best players off the ice,” left wing Tanner Glass said.
Although the game went to overtime, Sidney Crosby played only 18:47, well below his season average. Evgeni Malkin played 20:47.
The Penguins managed to stay out of the penalty box in the third period and overtime, but by then, the damage was done.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ex-Penguins defenseman Niskanen still miffed by coaches’ firings
- Minor league report: Other prospects on Penguins’ radar
- Penguins notebook: Memorable night for Pouliot, Trocheck
- Pouliot scores in NHL debut as Penguins tame Panthers
- Penguins star Crosby talks about his experience with mumps
- Penguins notebook: Kunitz ‘really close’ to return
- With 3 more players possibly affected, Pens’ mumps fight escalates
- ‘Rash of sickness’ hits Crosby, Penguins
- Mumps confirmed for Penguins’ Bennett; team intern also affected
- Penguins notebook: Kunitz tests foot by skating during practice
- Penguins notebook: Zatkoff returns to team as Fleury’s backup