Penguins work overtime -- for a loss

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It's a mantra the Penguins have repeated many times.

Regardless of the circumstances, they have stood by their way -- their system, their personnel, their drive -- and have talked about believing in that approach.

The monkey wrench Saturday night was extra time on the clock.

The Penguins had blown two two-goal leads in regulation against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Had given up a short-handed and two power-play goals.

The challenge became managing their game physically and emotionally going into an overtime situation that can go -- and, in the Penguins' history, has gone -- deep into the night.

"The big thing is not to beat yourself," winger Lee Stempniak said. "You don't need to go out and get the goal right away. You want to play hard and aggressively and do things that we pride ourselves on as a team, but you can't be reckless. If it takes 20 minutes or 40 minutes, whatever, just make sure you're not beating yourself by being reckless."

In this case, the Penguins weren't reckless, but they nevertheless lost, 4-3, when Blue Jackets winger Matt Calvert scored 1:10 into the second overtime at Consol Energy Center.

That left the teams' first-round playoff series tied at one game apiece going into Game 3 Monday night in Columbus.

The Penguins thought they managed the rigors of overtime as well as possible.

"When you get out on the ice, you try not to think about it being overtime," forward Craig Adams said. "You want to take care of the puck and not make mistakes, but at the same time you've got to play your game.

"Overtime, the game is right there for you. It's not hard to stay focused. You've just got to try to execute."

In a physical game -- Columbus outhit the Penguins, 51-28 -- there is a toll as the extra minutes pile up.

"There's a huge mental and emotional side to it," said center Joe Vitale, who had eight hits. "You've got to watch your shifts -- 20 seconds, 30 seconds in, you've got to get off [the ice] because you start fatiguing.

"It definitely wears on you mentally, so you've got to be sharp. You've got to pick each other up on the bench. That's why we have each other there. That's why your linemates are keeping you sharp, being vocal on the bench and reminding each other what we've got to do to be successful."

Even if they did not get that success in the end.

"I think everyone didn't have quite the jump," said defenseman Matt Niskanen, who had a goal and an assist. "You get in kind of a rhythm out there in these longer games. You feel all right, but I think you saw their team at times in the first overtime, we had them pinned in their zone for over 20 seconds, 30 seconds a few times, and they're gassed. Those are opportunities.

"The first overtime we had the puck in their end a lot. Couldn't cash in."

The Penguins already were juggling three of their four forward lines for most of the game after Brian Gibbons, who scored twice in the first period, left the game later in the period after absorbing a hit.

Still, the Penguins tried not to think in terms of pacing themselves in case the game stretched to several overtime periods. In the playoffs, overtime periods are a full 20 minutes, just as in regulation, and are played sudden-death style.

"I think you just play the overtime at hand," Vitale said. "You don't want it to go any longer than it needs to be, but you play every shift all-out. You're not really saving your legs."

Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.


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