Penguins end five-game homestand with loss to Avalanche
Fix one thing, and another thing breaks.
That's been a decent motto for the first half of the Penguins season, and Monday night was no different.
The Penguins shored up the first-period wobbles that plagued them in their previous game but couldn't figure out a way to score a goal until it was too late, losing 2-1 to the Colorado Avalanche.
When the Penguins began a five-game homestand about 10 days ago, they were in the midst of a four-game winning streak. Early season inconsistency appeared to be waning. Things were looking up.
As the 2-3-0 homestand came to an end, hope had been replaced by disappointment.
As they prepared for a three-game trip to Vegas, Arizona and Colorado, the Penguins are floundering in an unforgiving Metropolitan Division as the teams around them steadily pick up points in the standings.
“That's not what wanted, but you know what? We can't change that right now,” winger Patric Hornqvist said. “We can just look ahead and keep trying to get better here every single day. We did some good things today. We did some not very good things. We have to correct those and go from there.”
After giving up two goals in the first two minutes and losing 4-3 to Toronto on Saturday night, it wasn't hard to figure out what the first priority was for the Penguins in the early going Monday night.
Don't dig yourself a hole.
And for the most part, they didn't. In the first period, they had a 13-6 advantage in shots and a 22-16 edge in shot attempts.
They caught a break when a Nathan MacKinnon goal was correctly waved off on a coach's offside challenge. They weren't going to be chasing this game like they did the loss to the Leafs.
“We're disappointed we didn't get the result, but there are a lot of things to like about the game,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “We had the puck a lot. We established a lot of offensive-zone time.”
Still, the Avalanche made the play that counted.
About six minutes into the third period of a scoreless game, Phil Kessel broke up a centering pass in the defensive zone, and the puck caromed to defenseman Mark Barberio in the high slot. His shot deflected off the skate of center Riley Sheahan and skipped past goalie Tristan Jarry at the 6:17 mark.
Former Penguins winger Blake Comeau added the empty netter with 89 seconds to play. Kessel broke up the shutout bid with 11.8 seconds left.
“Probably just a little more net traffic,” Sullivan said when asked what his offense was missing. “Just trying to get in the goalie's sight lines, trying to make it difficult for him to see the puck.”
After the game, Jarry lamented the one puck he didn't see until it was too late.
“It's a tough one to swallow,” Jarry said. “It's something I'll watch video on and I'll improve on. It changed direction a little bit. It's just one where I think it went off somebody's foot. I just tried to get over and get up on it as quick as I could, and I couldn't get it.”
No one in the Penguins locker room or coaches' office laid the blame for this one at the 22-year-old goalie's feet. He stopped 26 of 27 shots to rebound from a relatively poor performance in the loss to Toronto.
“I think it was one of the games where I wanted to bounce back, and I wanted to play better than the night before,” Jarry said. “I think that's been my mindset ever since I started the season here, to get better and better every day.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.