Yohe: Penguins need to develop killer instinct

| Saturday, May 10, 2014, 10:21 p.m.

When these Penguins smell blood in the water, they swim in the other direction.

Under coach Dan Bylsma, the Penguins are 8-9 when presented with an opportunity to end a series. At home in such situations, they are 1-7 and have been outscored 31-12.

Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009, they are 4-7 against teams on the ropes.

“Obviously, we need to be much better in these situations,” defenseman Rob Scuderi said.

They have a second chance to finish the New York Rangers in Sunday's Game 6 at Madison Square Garden. History says this team would be wise to develop a killer instinct as Game 7s at home haven't been kind. The Penguins are 2-6 all time at home in Game 7s.

The lack of a killer instinct is among the most distinct differences between the Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux eras.

During the early 1990s — the other golden generation of Penguins hockey, they almost were unbeatable when they had the chance to conclude a series. In the 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup playoff runs, the Penguins were 8-0 when able to clinch a series. In Lemieux's career, the Penguins were 13-6 in such scenarios. With Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the ice with the opportunity to eliminate a team, the Penguins are 11-8, which includes a mark of 4-4 since 2010.

Even when the Penguins have ended series, they've had difficulty. In the first round of the playoffs, they led 4-0 late in Columbus before allowing three unanswered goals and barely hanging on for a 4-3 win.

They fell behind 3-0 in Game 6 at Ottawa in 2010 before roaring back for an overtime victory. Last season, they trailed late against the New York Islanders before escaping with an overtime win. The players who ended those respective games — winger Pascal Dupuis and defenseman Brooks Orpik — are injured.

Some killer instinct could go a long way for a Penguins team still finding its way in the postseason.

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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