Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Penguins Return a Little Flat but Still Provide Respite from Sports Turmoil

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Penguins Return a Little Flat but Still Provide Respite from Sports Turmoil

Article excerpt

I watched the pregame ceremony from start to finish Wednesday night at PPG Paints Arena and was glad I was in the throbbing building. I couldn't take my eyes off it, which isn't surprising because the Penguins are the best at that sort of thing. The bells. The whistles. The music. The laser lights.

There was a recap of the 2017 march to the franchise's second consecutive Stanley Cup with two players no longer with the team -Marc Andre-Fleury and Chris Kunitz -getting the biggest ovations. There was the introduction of the staff with the sights of Mike Sullivan, Jim Rutherford and, of course, Mario Lemieux nearly blowing the roof off the arena.

There was the introduction of the players with captain Sidney Crosby skating out last, carrying the Cup to center ice. Finally, there was the raising of the championship banner to the roof where it joined the ones from 2016, 2009, 1992 and 1991.

I made myself a note as the pageantry ended:

How do you play a game after that?

It turned out the Penguins couldn't quite do it against the St. Louis Blues.

Lethargic most of the night after taking an early 1-0 lead on a Justin Schultz goal, the Penguins trailed by two goals with fewer than 6 minutes left, yet got a 5-on-3 goal from Crosby and another goal from Conor Sheary 54 seconds later to pull into an unlikely tie. It wasn't enough. The Blues' Alex Pietrangelo sent them home as 5-4 losers with a goal in overtime.

I can't be too hard on the fellows, though. If I was drained before the game started, I can only imagine how they felt. They still managed to get a point on a night they probably didn't deserve one. I suspect they will play much better in Chicago Thursday night in Game 2.

Beyond that, it was fun to just watch a little hockey again. It's been a stressful late-summer and early-fall around here. But there was no complaining Wednesday night about the owner being cheap. There was no talk of the star player being traded soon. There was no bickering among teammates. There was no national anthem controversy.

Refreshing.

I was happy for a couple of Penguins defensemen. …

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