Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

No Excuses Coach Mike Sullivan Won't Let Penguins off Hook after Clunker

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

No Excuses Coach Mike Sullivan Won't Let Penguins off Hook after Clunker

Article excerpt

This tends to be the time of year when an 82-game NHL season can start to wear on a team.

The Penguins would be no exception, now 20 games removed from their "bye week" in early January and still 28 games away from the start of the playoffs.

Playing their fourth game (plus two overtimes) in six days Sunday against Detroit, one subpar effort might be excusable -even against the last-place Red Wings.

But after the Penguins' 5-2 loss at PPG Paints Arena, coach Mike Sullivan wanted to be clear that wasn't the case.

"We have to find ways to have success through the process," Sullivan said. "I don't look to those excuses, I don't think any of us look to those excuses. We're looking for solutions out there. We've got to find ways to be successful through these types of challenges in our schedule."

The Penguins didn't have to look much farther than the other bench for a lesson in how to overcome some scheduling hardships. The Red Wings played just 24 hours earlier at home against Washington, and still, according to winger Tom Kuhnhackl, "out-competed" the Penguins Sunday afternoon.

"It's just one of those games where we weren't ready," Kuhnhackl said. "We probably thought they'd be a little tired after they played yesterday and had travel and all that kind of stuff. We just weren't ready to play a full 60-minute game."

Kuhnhackl's first-period shorthanded goal gave the Penguins a bit of a spark early on, but they still came out of a choppy first period trailing, 2-1, on Detroit goals by Nick Jensen and Steve Ott.

There were plenty of potentially frustrating elements within the game, too. The first period featured 36 whistles for stoppages of play, more than half of what the Penguins average in a full game. Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek seemed to stand on his head for a couple of saves - notably on a Nick Bonino backhand midway through the second.

And, as in every game, there were some borderline officiating calls that could have gone either way.

"Some penalties we took, some penalties we were looking for," captain Sidney Crosby said. "You look at all those different things, I think it just added up to one of those days. You still have to find a way to win games like that sometimes. …

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