To the Penguins, success with the man advantage has meant the difference lately between two points and none.
Pittsburgh tries to find an answer for its struggles Wednesday night as it begins a three-game trip in western Canada against the Flames, in the midst of their own power-play slump.
The Penguins (28-18-1) have had trouble with the man advantage all season, owning one of the lowest success rates in the league (14.3 percent) and once going eight games without a power-play goal.
But while Pittsburgh won three games during its 0-for-29 stretch from late October to mid-November, it hasn’t won without a special-teams goal recently. The Penguins’ two power-play goals over the past two weeks have come in a pair of wins, but they’ve been outscored 26-13 in losing the six games they’ve gone without one.
The issue came to a head Monday night in Minnesota, where Pittsburgh went 0 for 6 on the power play - including a 1:10 stretch with a 5-on-3 - en route to a 4-3 loss.
Only four of the Penguins’ 38 shots came with the man advantage.
“It’s definitely frustrating. There are times where that’s the difference between winning and losing,” said captain Sidney Crosby(notes), who had two goals and an assist. “I think the last 10 games or so our power play has done a good job of getting quality zone time. We just have to put the puck in the net.”
While Crosby has produced at even strength, Evgeni Malkin(notes) hasn’t. The 2008-09 NHL points leader has gone nine games without a goal, and he didn’t have an assist for the fifth time in that span Monday as Pittsburgh fell to 5-9-0 when Malkin fails to record a point.
The Flames (26-14-6) have their own problems on the power play, as they’re 0 for 14 in the last five games and 3 for 35 (8.6 percent) over the last 11.
Calgary is 6-3-2 in that stretch thanks to some excellent goaltending - Miikka Kiprusoff(notes) has a 1.98 goals-against average - but some clutch stops from the opposing netminder cost the Flames a point Monday. They fired 46 shots at Colorado’s Craig Anderson(notes) but lost 3-2 in a shootout despite Calgary’s Rene Bourque(notes) scoring for a third straight game.
“You have to stay focused and believe the offense will come for us, and a big part of that is getting the power play going,” coach Brent Sutter told the Flames’ official Web site. “We’re at the bottom third of the league on the power play and that’s not good enough.”
Iginla had both regulation goals in a 3-2 shootout win over Pittsburgh on Dec. 6, 2007, the Penguins’ last visit to Calgary. Marc-Andre Fleury(notes), who has a 3.99 GAA in his last eight games, made 31 saves in a 2-0 win over the visiting Flames on March 25.
Crosby didn’t score a goal in his only previous three-game trip to western Canada. Pittsburgh visits Edmonton on Thursday and Vancouver on Saturday.
Kiprusoff is 2-1-1 with a 1.73 GAA in four starts against the Penguins.