Penguins

Natural born killers when short-handed ☕

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Teddy Blueger is one of the Penguins' top penalty-killing forwards. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

NEWARK, N.J. -- It is the Penguins' other special-teams unit.

The one that didn't have a run of 28 consecutive failures until Tuesday night.

That hasn't inspired fans and coaches alike to search for explanations to a slump that, well, defied explanation.

That hasn't cost the Penguins points that could prove to be precious when the standings stratify as the regular season winds down.

No, their penalty-killers haven't attracted nearly as much attention as their power play has during the past month or so. Too bad, really, because it has been the most consistently efficient aspect of their game for much of the 2019-20 season. That includes snuffing out two Rangers power plays during the third period of what became a 3-2 overtime loss at Madison Square Garden Tuesday. Both came during the third period, when the game was tied, 2-2, so a goal-against then could have led directly to a defeat in regulation.

There wasn't much chance of that happening, though, since New York managed a total of one shot on goal during those two opportunities with the extra man. That from a power play that entered the game on a 6-for-13 roll and was ranked sixth in the NHL, with a conversion rate of 24.1 percent.

Those are some pretty impressive numbers, but nothing like the ones the Penguins' penalty-killers have put up lately. They have not been scored on in the past seven games, have killed 16 consecutive penalties and have yielded just one goal in the past 23 short-handed situations.

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