After their shootout win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Pittsburgh Penguins looked to keep the momentum going against the Anaheim Ducks.
But they couldn’t build off their previous win, falling 4-0.
It didn’t take long for the Ducks to strike, scoring a little over three minutes into the game. Ondrej Kase took advantage of a Kris Letang turnover in the defensive zone and beat Matt Murray with a backhand to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead.
After that, all the momentum shifted in their favor. The Pens didn’t get their first shot of the game until eight minutes in.
Rickard Rakell scored with nine minutes remaining in the first to make it 2-0. His shot somehow found its way through Murray and into the net.
This was another instance of the Pens starting off flat, which has become an unsettling pattern this season.
Pittsburgh started to get some chances late in the period, but John Gibson was able to keep his team’s lead intact going into the first intermission.
When the second period began, the Pens started with a little more intensity. They got their first power play of the night when Hampus Lindholm was called for cross-checking.
But the exact opposite happened, when Andrew Cogliano scored a shorthanded goal to give the Ducks a 3-0 lead about four minutes into the second.
Head coach Mike Sullivan had seen enough, and pulled Murray as a wakeup call for his team. Tristan Jarry came in for relief, hoping to give the Pens a spark.
But the spark never came, thanks to a few great saves by Gibson and Phil Kessel hitting the post with a shot.
The Pens got another chance on the power play, with Ryan Getzlaf being sent off for interference with nine minutes left in the period. Once again, they could not get out of their own zone and almost gave up another shorthanded goal.
They spent the rest of the second period continuing to play catch-up against the Ducks, with nothing to show for it.
Anaheim got its first power play with a minute left in the period, with Brian Dumoulin getting sent off for holding. They were able to capitalize, with Cam Fowler scoring with just four seconds left in the second.
The Pens went into the second intermission down 4-0, met with boos from the frustrated home crowd.
The third period wasn’t a lot different than the second. The Pens could still not get anything going, while the Ducks played keep away.
Almost every time the Pens looked to have a chance, they would turn it over to Anaheim. As time ticked away, it became apparent that there would be no comeback on this night.
The horn mercifully sounded and the Ducks left Pittsburgh with the shutout victory.
Once again, another slow start doomed the Penguins. This has been a recurring problem throughout the season, and it still doesn’t look like they have a solution.
This team cannot be consistent at any point. They win one and play well, then go and get absolutely outplayed. It’s like they are incapable of stringing together good games.
The NHL roster freeze will end at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 28, so don’t be surprised if General Manager Jim Rutherford makes some more moves. Obviously the threat of a major shake-up hasn’t worked, so apparently he needs to make it a reality.
The Penguins are off until Wednesday night, when they face off against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Puck drop at PPG Paints Arena is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.