ShareThis Page
Penguins

Pens stuck in a slump

| Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2006

The thing about slumping teams facing each other is only one of those skids can end.

On Tuesday night at Mellon Arena, it was the 14th-place Florida Panthers' nose-dive that took a turn up, while the Penguins are still on the decline after a 3-2 loss that left several players shaking their heads.

"It's getting to the point where, I thought we were as desperate as we could be, but we didn't play that way," Mark Recchi said. "There's no urgency right now. It's pretty disappointing. We have to grow up pretty quick here."

Erik Christensen and Sidney Crosby scored for the Penguins (11-11-4), but they've now won only four times in their last 16 games since starting the season 7-3.

The Panthers went into the game only one point ahead of the last-place Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference and winless in their last six games (0-5-1).

The Penguins were in fourth place in the Atlantic Division and 13th place in the conference, only two points behind the three teams directly ahead of them. They had only one win in their last six games.

Talk in the morning was that the game was a must-win.

But after the Panthers scored to tie it in the first then took the lead going into the third period, the Penguins were forced to battle from behind yet again and, again, fell short.

"Every team, one through 30, is going to be good," Crosby said. "They can beat anyone any given night. It doesn't matter if they're winless in 10 or won 10 in a row. It doesn't matter. You can go out there and bring your A-game and not win. But it's those timely plays that we need, and we haven't gotten those."

Crosby scored his 50th career goal to tie the game with only 10 minutes left to play on a spectacular individual effort, splitting defensemen Ruslan Salei and Jay Bouwmeester and then getting the shot off while being knocked to the ice.

Four minutes later, the game was back in the Panthers' hands, however, after Olli Jokinen's power-play goal to win it at 14:53. Dominic Moore was in the box for hooking, Jokinen came off the right boards and took a slapshot, using teammate Stephen Weiss as a screen to beat goaltender Jocelyn Thibault for the game winner.

"I saw the release off his stick -- that was the last thing I can remember," said Thibault, who made 27 saves but is still looking for his first win of the season (0-4-1). "I knew he was going weak-side. I thought I had everything covered. ... I have to keep the score 2-2 right there. It's frustrating. I wish I could have made that save somehow."

It was the Panthers' second power-play goal on six chances after they'd failed to score on the power play (0 for 17) in their previous four games.

Coach Michel Therrien promised that there will be a reevaluation of the team's penalty kill before Thursday's game at the New York Rangers.

"Penalty killing didn't do the job again," Therrien said. "Lately, we give up one, two goals per game. We're not going to win games. We're going to have to sit down and think about if we can use different players because right now it doesn't work with the role we're trying to give some players."

The crowd of 12,511 was the smallest at Mellon Arena this year.

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