NASHVILLE — Their power play was one of the big reasons the Pittsburgh Penguins made it back to the Stanley Cup Final.
On Saturday, it was a big reason they couldn’t take a 3-0 series lead on the Predators.
The Pens went 0-for-3 with the man advantage, including two power plays in the first period when they led the game by a goal. If they had scored on even one of them, perhaps Nashville would’ve lost some hope. But they didn’t, and the Predators stormed back to win by four.
“The first power play was really good. We had some really good looks. We almost scored,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. “I thought the second power play was not as good. I thought it gave Nashville a bit of a boost. We have to be better. We’ve got to execute. I don’t think we’ve executed as well with what we’re trying to accomplish against the type of penalty kill that we’re up against.”
Indeed, credit must be given to the Predators, who made it hard for Pittsburgh to gain entry into the attacking zone, and even harder for the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Justin Schultz to get shots through to Pekka Rinne.
“Just moving our legs, trying to take away time and space,” said defenseman P.K. Subban. “They’re a good team and they’ve got great players that can move the puck and move themselves and create lanes. We’re doing a good job of blocking shots and trying to limit their time and space. It’s tough. It’s hard. We’re going to have to continue to work as hard as we’ve been working to have success on the penalty kill.”
In the first three rounds of the playoffs, the Penguins scored 14 goals on 56 opportunities with the man advantage. But in three games against Nashville, they’ve only scored once on 13 tries, and that was on a 5-on-3.
“We’ve got to find a way to have more success,” said Sullivan. “We’ve got capable people. These guys are real good players. They’ve been good for us here all year long, all playoffs long. I know they’re going to be a difference here for us moving forward. It’s been a little bit of a struggle early on here. We believe in these guys.”