ShareThis Page
Penguins

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan calls out penalty killers after loss to Blackhawks

Jerry DiPaola
| Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, 10:03 p.m.

Coach Mike Sullivan didn't raise his voice — at least, not publicly — and he didn't threaten anybody's job after the Penguins' 2-1 loss Saturday night to the Chicago Blackhawks at PPG Paints Arena.

But there was no doubt about what he thinks of his penalty killers after they surrendered two power-play goals for the fourth time in the past five games.

Asked to explain the excessive charity, he set his jaw and didn't hold back.

“It's attention to detail. It's working together,” he said, “but it starts with a level of urgency that we don't have right now.

“It's a willingness to compete on pucks, on blocked shots and do all those thankless jobs that make good penalty kills, good penalty kills.”

Goaltender Matt Murray, who stopped 36 shots, kept the game close with some masterful saves. Sullivan acknowledged that, but he believes the Penguins allowed too many scoring chances — whether they went over the goal line or not.

“Quite honestly, I don't think we defended hard enough,” the coach said.

Part of the problem might have been the Penguins feeling the need to “chase the game,” Sullivan said, after the Blackhawks took a 1-0 in the first period on Gustav Forsling's power-play goal.

Matt Hunwick, playing in his first game since suffering a concussion Oct. 17, tied the score with a short-handed goal with 12 minutes left in the third period, but Chicago's Artem Anisimov netted the game-winner only 21 seconds later. Other than those handful of ticks on the clock, the Penguins trailed all night.

“Some of the odd-man rushes we gave up,” Sullivan said, “we're forcing plays to try to create offense. Maybe we're pressing because we're chasing the game all night long.

“That's a characteristic that we have to get better at if we're going to get to where we're going to go.

“This team can score goals. We don't have to force plays that aren't there in order to do it. We just have to try to play the game the right way. If we do, we'll get our chances.”

Murray admitted the Penguins are committing too many penalties, including one of his own for tripping. Last night, it was six penalties, resulting in five power plays and the decisive goals.

“The more penalties you take the more stress you put on your penalty killers,” he said. “It kills your rhythm as a team. We need to be more disciplined that way.”

The Penguins, who lost for the first time in four non-overtime games at home, had chances of their own, but Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford was able to stop almost everything thrown at him.

The word everything is not used loosely in this contex. It included:

• Evgeni Malkin's big, onrushing thigh that caught Crawford in the head.

• A puck that crossed the goal line off Jake Guentzel's stick and would have tied the score, 2-2, with 8:27 left in the third period.

• And six Penguins attackers for the final 89 seconds.

Guentzel's goal was disallowed after replay review when Olli Maatta was called for goaltender's interference.

Crawford left the game for 2:52 in the second period after he strayed a few feet from the goal crease to control a loose puck and got in Malkin's path.

Anton Forsberg replaced Crawford, who went into the locker room for evaluation but returned before the Penguins could get a shot on goal.

Malkin went to the penalty box for two minutes for goaltender's interference, but the Penguins successfully killed that penalty.

The Penguins don't play again until Wednesday, giving Sullivan and his staff an opportunity to evaluate the team's penalty killers. He offered no clues to what the solution might be.

“The first thing we're going to do is we're going to watch the film and see what we can learn from it,” he said. “We can't continue to give up a goal or two goals on the penalty kill night in and night out and expect to win.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

Penguins goaltender makes a save against the Blackhawks in the second period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender makes a save against the Blackhawks in the second period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford makes a save agains the Penguins' Carl Hagelin in the second period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford makes a save agains the Penguins' Carl Hagelin in the second period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford makes a save against the Penguins in the second period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford makes a save against the Penguins in the second period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Patric Hornqvist tries the raparound  past the Blackhawks' Tommy Wingels in the first period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Patric Hornqvist tries the raparound past the Blackhawks' Tommy Wingels in the first period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray makes a save on the Blackhawks' Patrick Kane in the first period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray makes a save on the Blackhawks' Patrick Kane in the first period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Bryan Rust is tripped by the Blackhawks' Jan Rutta in the first period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Bryan Rust is tripped by the Blackhawks' Jan Rutta in the first period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby gives it back to the Blackhawks' Connor Murphy in the first period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby gives it back to the Blackhawks' Connor Murphy in the first period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby tries to redirect the puck past  Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford in the first period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby tries to redirect the puck past Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford in the first period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Penguins defenseman Ian Cole takes out the Blackhawks' Ryan Hartman in the first period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins defenseman Ian Cole takes out the Blackhawks' Ryan Hartman in the first period Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
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.

click me