The Rink Report: Pens Winning Streak Snapped at Four with Loss in Florida

Written By Anthony Cugini, Sports Columnist

The Pittsburgh Penguins were defeated 4-1 by the Florida Panthers on Saturday, which  ended their win streak at four games.

It was a tough game in Florida as Pittsburgh was only able to put up a singular goal against the Panthers, courtesy of Kris Letang, who rocketed a shot into the back of the net while Pittsburgh were on the power play.

Saturday’s game also featured the return of forward Nick Bonino. The 34-year old spent two seasons with Pittsburgh during their recent back-to-back Stanley Cup victories. Bonino left Pittsburgh in 2017 with a bushy beard and a little bit of stubble on his head. Six years later he returns completely bald as he looks to help the Pens in their quest for a playoff spot.

Pittsburgh also recently acquired forward Mikael Granlund from the Nashville Predators, who the Pens sent a 2023 second round pick for. Through his first few games in the Burgh, Granlund has seen time on Pittsburgh’s penalty kill unit and played wing on the revamped third line with Jeff Carter and Danton Heinen. 

Granlund brings plenty of experience to the Pens, as he’s currently in his eleventh NHL season. Pittsburgh snagged him with the intention that he could give the third line a true identity. The third line has been by far the weakest trio the Penguins have had this year.

The last player the Pens added before the trade deadline was defenseman Dmitry Kulikov. This move is most likely to be more money focussed as the trade allowed Pittsburgh to get Brock McGinn off the books for Kulikov — a free agent at the end of the season.

Kulikov may see some playing time for the Penguins though he’s likely just going to be depth for the defensive unit. It’s hard to see head coach Mike Sullivan scratching Jan Rutta or Brian Dumolin to make room for Dmitry.

After winning their last four games, it was surprising to see how poor the Penguins played against the Panthers — bad habits plagued their play. However, it does take  time for newly acquired players to find their place on a new squad. The Penguins look ahead to Tuesday where they’ll host the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets. The next stretch of games will be crucial to Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes as six of their seven upcoming games are against their own division.