Tampa Bay 3, Pittsburgh 1
Can we call this a slump yet? If not, we’re getting damn close. The Pens lost their fourth straight game and fifth in their past six after dropping a painful 3-1 decision in Tampa Bay, a place where they had won four in a row. The Lightning had a 37-26 advantage in shots.
Outside of Marc-Andre Fleury’s penalty-shot save on Vinny Lecavalier and Bill Guerin’s first-period goal, not much good came out of this one. In fact, something pretty bad happened prior to the game when Sergei Gonchar was scratched. If you don’t recall, Gonchar took a shot off the foot in Wednesday’s loss in New Jersey. It looked bad at the time, and my fears were confirmed when #55 couldn’t make a go of it in Tampa. We can only hope he isn’t out long.
A very ugly trend continued for the Pens. In 12 of their 15 losses, they’ve allowed the first goal. I’m not sure if that’s one of those statistical anomalies that should be taken with a grain of salt or if it’s a legitimate concern. Either way, the Pens got off to a lousy start in Tampa, allowing Marty St. Louis’ goal just 1:03 in and getting thoroughly outplayed over the first 10-12 minutes. Perhaps the bizarre 3:00 start time had something to do with it. Or perhaps the Pens are just in a real bad funk right now.
Zenon Konopka, who leads the league in penalty minutes, got the game winner late in the second period for the Bolts. Not exactly a sharp-shooter, it was his second of the year and sixth in 79 career games. Ex-Flyer Steve Downie put the nail in the Pens’ coffin with a third-period tally.
Listening to the radio broadcast late in the game, Phil Bourque opined that it’s “the small things/the details” that are costing the Pens right now. Let’s hope the team listens to the ole 2-9-er’s advice and corrects the problem by tomorrow evening when they take on the Panthers. This a great opportunity to earn a couple points – Florida is also struggling, losing three in a row and four out of five.
- Boston signed ex-Pen Miroslav Satan to a one-year deal. The Bruins rank 27th in the league with 2.5 goals per game, but this move puzzles me. If Boston really wanted to upgrade its offense, I find it hard to believe that Satan was the best option available.
- St. Louis fired head coach Andy Murray, who led the team to the playoffs last year. The Blues (17-17-6) have disappointed so far this season and have the worst home record in the league. Murray was replaced by Davis Payne, who coaches the organization’s AHL affiliate in Peoria, Ill. Not too big of a surprise. The Blues are loaded with young talent and were expected to make the playoffs. They’re currently in 12th and needed to do something to turn things around.