SUNRISE, Fla. — The Killing Time is now for the Penguins.
They nearly matched a franchise record in a loss Tuesday at Florida. The Panthers scored four power-play goals.
No Penguins team has ever allowed more than five power-play goals on the road.
Still, the Penguins almost won, dropping a 6-4 decision.
Their record (13-7-0) is remarkable considering they have allowed 17 power-play goals, almost one per-game.
The Penguins are at 78.8 percent on the penalty kill this season, 21st in the NHL as of Wednesday.
They were top-3 in that category each of the last two regular seasons, but dating to the 2012 playoffs they are at 71.8 percent on the penalty kill (29 goals allowed in 103 chances).
This is more than a problem.
It’s a season-changer.
Even when center Evgeni Malkin (concussion) returns, the Penguins will need supreme goaltending and elite goal scoring to overcome a woeful penalty kill.
The question is why has a strength turned into a weakness?
Defenseman Brooks Orpik said “I don’t know” to that question after the Florida debacle, which marked the sixth game on the truncate NHL season that Penguins have afforded an opponent at least five power plays.
Is it personnel or coaching, or both?
The penalty-kill forwards do consist of three regulars in their 30s – Craig Adams, Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis, though the condition of those three cannot be questioned.
Only Orpik is a true crease-clearing presence among defensemen.
Perhaps this is why Mark Eaton – an expert shot blocker and stay-at-home defenseman – was signed Monday.
He’s worth a look Thursday at Carolina.
Those Staal Brothers – Eric and Jordan – will not be easy to move from Marc-Andre Fleury’s crease.
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Rob Rossi covers the Penguins and NHL for Trib Total Media and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He is ClearChannel’s Penguins Insider. Follow him on Twitter: @RobRossi_Trib.