BOSTON — Sidney Crosby and the potent Penguins have been punchless.
Pittsburgh led the NHL in scoring in the regular season. It averaged 4.27 goals per game in the first two rounds of the playoffs. And it poured in 13 goals in the last two games of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
No addition necessary.
The Penguins have just one goal in two losses on their home ice to the Boston Bruins. To play there again this season, they must win Wednesday or Friday and avoid what seemed so improbable just a few days ago — being swept in the best-of-seven conference finals.
“Right now, we’re not liking the picture, down 0-2. They’re in control,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “I don’t think we’re frustrated by the fact that we haven’t scored as much as (the fact that) they’re getting up leads, especially in Game 2.”
The Bruins won the opener 3-0 but led just 1-0 after two periods. The second game was much different. They rolled to a 4-1 lead after one period and remained aggressive in finishing off their 6-1 rout. The Penguins’ effort waned as the game went on.
“I didn’t do anything, didn’t change anything. It felt like every time we had a puck that was bouncing, we ended up giving it away,” Crosby said. “We gave them the game. We didn’t really do anything to give ourselves a chance to win.”
Combine that with the Bruins‘ high level of play — disciplined on defense, organized on offense — and the pre-series chatter about the Penguins being favorites seems like so much nonsense.
But any talk that Boston will have an easy path to the Stanley Cup finals is just as premature.
“We’re going to have to play even better than we did because they’re going to be desperate,” Boston’s David Krejci said.
With a day off to ponder their problems and work at eliminating them, the Penguins’ offense could resurface.
“It’s about what we do in the next game,” Boston defenseman Andrew Ference said, “not about patting ourselves on the back for what’s already happened.”
Winning the first two games is a good start but doesn’t always lead to a good finish. Both teams have overcome 2-0 deficits and gone on to win Stanley Cups.
In 2009, the Penguins dropped two games at Detroit by a combined score of 6-2 then took four out of five to clinch their first championship since 1992.