Penguins Notebook: Last-second loss tarnishes successful trip
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PHILADELPHIA -- The nature of the Penguins' come-from-ahead, 3-2 loss Sunday against Philadelphia, when they failed to protect a two-goal lead and allowed the winning goal with.9 of a second left in overtime, prevented them from appreciating what they'd accomplished on their three-game road trip.
They not only played some pretty good hockey against teams clustered around them in the Eastern Conference standings, but returned home with five of a possible six points.
None of which was much consolation in the minutes following their first defeat in 12 games.
"Probably tomorrow," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "Not right now."
Similarly, the defeat -- to say nothing of being held scoreless by the Flyers, a team he routinely torches -- might have affected Sidney Crosby's perspective on what he achieved in his first three games back after sitting out 40 with a soft-tissue injury in his neck.
Crosby, who played 17 minutes, 37 seconds -- most of it between Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy -- against the Flyers, had piled up a total of five assists in the previous two games, against the New York Rangers and New Jersey.
"I just want to make sure that I am getting better and feeling better each game," Crosby said. "I think, as a group, we played really well here in the last few [games].
"Most of the time, we've done some really good things. So, we just want to keep building off that and, individually, the same thing."
Crosby does not have a goal in 10 games, the longest dry spell of his career.
If the Penguins had beaten the Flyers in regulation, they would have tied the Rangers for first place in the East and padded their lead over Philadelphia to five points.
With less than three weeks to go in the regular season, the Flyers would have been looking hard at likely finishing no higher than fifth in the conference.
As it is, they are two points behind the Penguins and three in back of New York.
"We knew if we would lose this game, it would be kind of tough to come back and finish first in our division or conference," Philadelphia right winger Jaromir Jagr said. "It was like Game 7 for us. We have to win that game, no matter what."
Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis got the second assist on Craig Adams' goal in the first period, extending his scoring streak to a career-best six games.
Not that he took much solace in an individual achievement that came in defeat.
"Points are points, but it [stinks] when you lose," Dupuis said. "Even if you win 10, 11, 12, 15 in a row."
The game had its nasty moments, as most between the Penguins and Flyers do, but the most violent came midway though the second period, when Philadelphia winger Scott Hartnell smacked teammate Zac Rinaldo in the mouth with his stick during a skirmish with Kris Letang.
Rinaldo picked up a minor for roughing on the play, but spent those two minutes in the trainer's room, where a badly gashed lip was stitched.
Not that he seemed terribly concerned about it after the game.
"I don't hold any grudges," Rinaldo said.
"Whatever happens, happens. I play at my own risk so, it's cool.
"I can't really hold anyone accountable. It's just a stick swinging in the air. It happens."
Right winger Arron Asham rejoined the lineup after missing two games because of illness. ... Kimmo Timonen's goal was just the second power-play score the Penguins have allowed in their past 12 road games. They had not allowed a man-advantage goal in the previous nine overall. ... Jordan Staal's career-best streak of 10 consecutive games with an assist ended.
First Published March 19, 2012 12:00 am