The Pittsburgh Penguins travel to Washington tonight to take on the Caps after another rough outing for Brent Johnson and another loss for this wounded and down Penguins team.
The offensive starved Pens could only muster 1 goal while out shooting the Ottawa Senators last night 30-23. Although the Pens are out shooting their opponents consistently, the shots are not coming in prime scoring chances. Evgeni Malkin scored at the 11:14 mark in the second period to make it 4-1. That was the only goal they were able to get past Anderson and the Senators. While the Senators were out shot, they out played the Pens for most of the night.
The Sens started the scoring with a Chris Neil wrist shot in the first and a Bobby Butler wrist shot later in the first period. That ended up being the only scoring in the first period and it also ended up being all the Senators needed to beat the Pens. Jason Spezza scored in the first minute and a half of the second period to put the Sens up 3-0 followed by Milan Michalek’s first of 2 goals later in the second period. As mentioned, Michalek chipped in another one mid way through the third period to make it 5-1 and put this game completely out of reach.
Brent Johnson looked shaky again for the second straight time while being pulled for the second straight time. The Penguins got word right before the drop of the puck that Paul Martin would not go because of a sickness, and then 3 minutes into the game his replacement Simon Despres went out with a lower body injury and did not return. That put the Pens in a situation where they were rotating 5 defensman for the rest of the night. It ended up being just too much for this Penguins team and now they have a quick turn around to play tonight in Washington.
It’s not just the Penguins that are struggling with injuries now though, the Capitals, whom the Pens play tonight, will be without defensman Mike Green and Team Leading scorer, Nicholas Backstrom. For Green, this will be the second consecutive season that he is struggling with injuries. And Backstrom has now missed 3 or 4 games in a row with an upper body injury. That seems to be the code words for Concussion or Concussion like symptoms right now. They are 5-4 and 1 over their last 10 games and losers of their last 2 games in a row.
With all of the negative news with injuries and poor play, this looks to be the best opportunity right now for the Pens to get back on track with a victory. Not just because the injuries to The Capitals lineup, but also because the Pens are on the road. When a team that is struggling losing 3 straight games at home, sometimes it is nice just to get away from your home ice to straighten things out.
The injuries are a problem on this team, but playing disciplined is also a problem on this team. The defense needs to get back to skating agressively with a purpose. When teams struggle and are missing key components, it is a natural tendancy for players to start trying to do too much. I think that is the case here. That is why the apposing teams are getting easy looks. Players are playing out of position too much.
Fleury will be in net tonight, Martin is a game time decision but should play. The Pens will also be bringing up another player from Wilkes Barre to take the place of Simon Despres.