Penguins growing weary of trying to make playoffs one point at a time
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Coming into a matchup with the Nashville Predators on Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins have lost two in a row.
Both losses, however, came past regulation, in overtime against Philadelphia last Sunday and in a shootout Tuesday in Carolina. All told, the Penguins have picked up a point for a loss four times in their last 13 games.
Under some circumstances, this would be cause for a mild celebration. Every hockey team is going to suffer its share of losses. To salvage a point in the standings even in defeat can be critical in a tight playoff race.
And the Penguins are in one of those, without a doubt. They’re third in the Metropolitan Division with 89 points, but they’ve got fourth-place Carolina (87) and fifth-place Columbus (84) right behind them. Montreal (83) is in ninth place in the conference, ready to take the last postseason berth from any team that slips.
As such, they’re getting a little antsy trying to clinch a playoff berth one point at a time.
“The points still matter, for sure,” center Matt Cullen said. “But for us, the biggest takeaway, well, there’s a couple. No. 1, we’re playing pretty good hockey and we’re putting ourselves in the position to win games. The second thing is there’s frustration with giving these games away at the end and not getting that extra point, for sure.
“I think, honestly at this point of the season, it can be a positive for us to take these and learn from them and understand how urgently you have to play and the small details you have to take care of at the end of the game to finish it out. Hopefully those are things we can carry with us down the stretch and ideally into the playoffs.”
Matt Murray will start in net for the Penguins. Murray has recorded three straight shutouts against the Predators going back to Game 6 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. He has an active shutout streak of more than 206 minutes against them.
Pekka Rinne is expected to start for Nashville, which has won three in a row.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .