Penguins Notebook: Bylsma sees positives in loss


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The outcome, he hated.

The way his team let the game get away, well, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma didn't care much for that, either.

But after reflecting on -- and watching tape of -- the Penguins' 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers Monday night at Consol Energy Center, Bylsma concluded that there was much to like about what his players did in that game.

Like how, by the coaching staff's reckoning, they limited the Rangers to nine scoring opportunities.

"We've talked about playing a certain way and minimizing the other team's chances," Bylsma said Tuesday. "The last four or five games, we've done a real good job of that. That's the recipe we're looking for, and our chances are way, way up there."

He also praised the Penguins for not straying from their game plan, even as Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was rejecting their first 36 shots.

"Going into the third period, I stressed the fact that this is the type of game we're going to have to be comfortable playing," Bylsma said.

"Getting the tying goal and the go-ahead goal to make it 2-1, you feel like, at that point, you have a real good lesson you've learned by sticking with your game plan, by not getting discouraged because we don't get a power-play goal on the four-minute [advantage] there at the end of the second, start of the third."

Trouble is, what looked to be the Penguins' high point, when Matt Cooke gave them a 2-1 lead and they were awarded a power play at 18:07 of the third period, morphed directly into their downfall, because the Rangers scored a short-handed goal to put the game into overtime.

New York was able to score, Bylsma said, because the Penguins made an unnecessary attempt to manufacture another goal, rather than focusing on keeping play in the attacking end to run down the clock.

"We wanted to get in [the New York zone] and set up and kill time, passing it around," Bylsma said. "We went out and didn't take that opportunity, and we tried to shoot the puck.

"We had a good entry and we had good position with the puck. But we tried to shoot it, and it hit a skate and goes the other way. Five guys turned back and played defense. They all come back hard, but we didn't get a good stick on the puck, we didn't lift the stick [of defenseman Marc Staal, who scored the tying goal].

"Then the shot gets deflected off [Kris Letang's] stick and ends up in the back of our net."

A full lineup for a change

It looks as if Bylsma will have 23 healthy bodies from which to choose when he is settling on a lineup for the game tonight against Vancouver at Consol Energy Center.

Defenseman Paul Martin was held out of Tuesday's practice because he was "a little banged up," Bylsma said, but is expected to be available against the Canucks. Right winger Tyler Kennedy sat out the New York game because of a flu-like ailment, but participated in the Tuesday workout and spoke optimistically about dressing tonight.

Facing off

Sidney Crosby set a franchise record when he won 25 of 32 faceoffs against the Rangers. That bumped his success rate for the season up to 57.4 percent, one of the best in the league among players who have handled a significant number of draws. Crosby could be seriously tested tonight if he is on the ice much against Manny Malhotra of the Canucks. Malhotra is 193-115 on draws, a win rate of 62.7 percent that places him second in the NHL.

Tip-ins

Gibsonia native Brandon Saad is the second-rated Ontario Hockey League prospect in the NHL Central Scouting preliminary rankings for the June entry draft. Saad has 12 goals and 11 assists in 23 games with the Saginaw, Mich. Spirit and is expected to be one of the top five players chosen in the draft.


Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com .


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