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Thursday May 23 2019
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Canes blow by Pens in 4-0 shutout

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Sebastian Aho punched in two goals leading Carolina to the 4-0 shutout win over the Penguins Thursday night.

It was a less than groovy scene for the Pens Thursday night.

On a 70s themed night at PPG Paints arena, it was a listless second period for Pittsburgh (20-19-3) that opened the door for Carolina (19-13-8) to score its game-winner, an early unassisted Jeff Skinner finish over the glove of Matt Murray, after Skinner picked the pocket of Ian Cole near the blue line, then escaped to open ice.

Teuvo Teravainen would add a second goal 10-minutes later.

The Pens mustered just seven total shots in the second period, as Hurricanes netminder Cam Ward stopped all 21 shots to hand Pittsburgh its second shutout at home this season.

“I think it’s a combination of things,” said Mike Sullivan about the struggles of his squad that has now lost eight of its last 12 games.  “It could be something different every night, but it starts with our compete level and mindset, and our willingness to win puck battles.  We played a team tonight that we knew is a quick team, that has a puck pursuit game.  We had to be able to handle their pressure, get out of their end zone and hang on to pucks in the offensive zone, and I just don’t think we did it successfully enough.”

Failing to win back-to-back games since a Dec. 1, 2 away-and-home sweep of Buffalo, the Penguins—who were fresh off a 5-1 dismantling of Philadelphia just two days prior—struggled to carry over any sort of momentum, going 0-for-2 on the power play, while the first line totaled just three combined shots on goal.

“We haven’t put games together,” said Sidney Crosby, who failed to register a single shot on goal Thursday night.  “We’ve had one good game, and that is exactly the way our record shows [it.]  If we knew the reason, we’d find a way to put it together.”

In 42 games—and on top of the halfway point of the season—the Pens currently sit in seventh place in the Metropolitan, clinging to 43 points, while presently out of the playoff picture.

“I think we’re all aware of it,” said Crosby of finding consistency during this important stretch of hockey.  “It should show in our play and it hasn’t.  I think we’re all aware of what the situation is.”

“It’s hard to sit here and explain what’s going wrong,” said Murray, who stopped 29 of 33 shots Thursday night.  “We’re not going to make excuses, we just have to get better.”

After Aho’s second goal- a third period one-timer 12 minutes through, Sullivan switched up lines, even going to a three-line look.

“We basically shortened the bench, and we went to three lines that stayed the same,” said Sullivan of the third period.  “It was an attempt to try and get back in the game, and it was based on the coaches’ discussions on who we thought was playing well, and where we could put guys into positions to be successful.”

“At this point, we’re trying to find some spark that gives us some juice to get back into some hockey games,” the coach continued.

After the moneyline

The Penguins came in as -150 favorites, losing their seventh game as home favorites this season.

The total, which was set at 5.5 goals went under, marking the 5th time in the last seven games that the under has hit.

Up next

The Pens will have a quick turnaround, traveling to New York for date with the Islanders tomorrow night.  Puck drops at 7 PM.

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