Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Plugging Holes, Leaks Becoming a Problem Chicago Routs Penguins with 4 Goals in First Blackhawks 5, Penguins 1

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Plugging Holes, Leaks Becoming a Problem Chicago Routs Penguins with 4 Goals in First Blackhawks 5, Penguins 1

Article excerpt

As the injuries have piled up over the past few weeks, the Penguins have largely been able to plug holes and avert disaster by fitting other players into the lineup.

Over the past few games, though, the dam had begun to spring a few more leaks, and it may have burst completely in the first period against Chicago Wednesday night.

The result was a flood of Blackhawks goals and a 5-1 loss for the Penguins.

"They were a better team than us tonight," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "I don't know how else to describe it."

The loss extended the Penguins' winless streak to four games - the first time they've gone that long without a victory since the first four games of coach Mike Sullivan's tenure last season - and dealt a blow to their hopes to land the home-ice advantage for first round of the playoffs.

The previous time these teams played (March 1), it was a back-and-forth affair that featured action up and down the ice in both directions. Wednesday, the action only flowed in one direction. Playing with seven regulars out of the lineup, the Penguins allowed the Blackhawks to jump to a 4-0 first-period lead, and cruise from there.

"They're a fast-strike team," captain Sidney Crosby said. "They got behind us a few times and they don't really need a lot of chances to score."

The Blackhawks seemed to capitalize on nearly every opportunity they got, especially in the first 20 minutes. It wasn't just one flaw in the Penguins' defensive strategy, either. Chicago scored on odd-man rushes, defensive-zone breakdowns and neutral- zone turnovers.

"You look at the types of goals they scored and how they scored them, it was different ways," Sullivan said. "It wasn't the same way. It wasn't like we turned the puck over and they counterattacked every time. But that was part of it."

Winger Bryan Rust - who scored the lone Penguins goal in the third period, long after the game was decided- attributed the loss, and the Penguins' recent struggles, partially due to a lack of confidence on the ice. …

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