Penguins center and team captain Sidney Crosby couldn't wash off the stink of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final.
At one point during an interview session Tuesday after practice at Consol Energy Center, he balked at what probably felt like the 18th detailed question about a certain area of breakdown in the 6-1 thrashing Monday by the Boston Bruins.
"Now we're just picking it apart," Crosby said. "It's a hockey game."
Crosby defended his team, the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
"We believe in our game and trust it," he said. "I don't see anything but our best for Game 3."
Still, Crosby found himself circling back to Monday's game, which left the Penguins in a hole, down, 2-0, in the best-of-seven series going into Game 3 tonight in Boston.
Crosby stressed that even though the first two games were losses at home, Game 1 was different from Game 2.
"We had a ton of [scoring] chances in Game 1," he said of Saturday's 3-0 loss. "We felt like we got to our game a little bit more."
Not so in Game 2. Crosby said he left the arena late Monday night feeling "frustrated."
"I mean, we gave them the game," he said. "We didn't do anything to give ourselves a chance to win.
"It's tough to win in the playoffs as it is. When you give a team a game like that, you feel terrible. Nobody had a good feeling about it. But we came [to practice Tuesday] knowing we have to get ready for Game 3."
In particular, the Bruins feasted off of several mistakes the Penguins made, Crosby included. He had four giveaways, twice as many as anyone else and among 12 made by his club.
"I think mental," he said when asked about the type of mistakes. "That's a big part of the game. I think we looked at it enough to know that we didn't play well enough to win.
"We've got to find a way to be much better."
The Penguins were several seconds into a strong opening shift, setting up in Boston's end, when Crosby floated back to the right point to support defenseman Kris Letang, who had pinched in deep on offense.
The puck came out to Crosby, but it was bouncing and he partially whiffed on a pass.
Boston's Brad Marchand picked it off and raced the other way to score on a breakaway.
"You know what? It was one of those nights," Crosby said. "I didn't do anything [differently]. I didn't change anything. I had the same mentality.
"It just felt like every time I got it, the puck would bounce on me and I would end up giving it away. It's not a good feeling, but at the end of the day those things happen in this game.
"It's not always easy to explain, but you've got to make sure that you don't let it happen again."
In the final minute of the second period, Marchand scored again, giving the Bruins a 4-1. Marchand's second goal came just 25 seconds after Brandon Sutter scored the Penguins' only goal.
"When they scored that fourth goal to make it 4-1, at that point we just tried to play catch-up, and we were trying to get all three goals in one shift, it felt like," Crosby said. "You can't do that, especially against a team that thrives on mistakes like they do."
Crosby has seven goals, 15 points in 12 games this postseason, but his statistics through two games against Boston -- outside of his six shots -- are below his usual standards: no points, a plus-minus rating of minus-4, the four giveaways and a faceoff win percentage of 38.8 (14 of 36).
He is convinced Game 2 was some sort of aberration, not indicative of the Penguins being inferior.
"I don't think it has anything to do with X's and O's," Crosby said.
"We just didn't execute. That's what it came down to and, unfortunately, we didn't give ourselves much of a chance to win that game."
Crosby called for the Penguins to be patient and spend more time controlling the puck, particularly in the offensive zone.
That doesn't mean he wants the Penguins to completely forget Game 2 and what went wrong.
"I think you have to understand," Crosby said. "But you definitely can't dwell on it at this point.
"Going into Boston we've got to find a way to win."
For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: email@example.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly. First Published June 5, 2013 4:45 AM