At this early point of the season and heading into a rematch Sunday, the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers are looking not only at results, but at their overall performances.
The host Penguins have won three straight games, a bounce-back from opening with a couple losses, but they see a nagging trend.
Those three wins -- each of which went to overtime or a shootout -- have all been of the comeback variety. In fact, in four of their five games overall, Pittsburgh has trailed by at least two goals.
"It's not ideal," Penguins defenseman Kris Letang said. "We don't want to get used to that. We want to break that kind of a streak. It's a fast-paced game out there. We have to get to our game as soon as the puck drops, and we have to keep at it for 60 minutes. We'll take the points, but we have to learn from this."
In Friday's 4-3 shootout win over the Rangers, the Penguins gave up three goals in a span of 3:01 in the second period for a two-goal deficit before coming back to force overtime.
It was a familiar, if unwanted, situation.
"We can't keep chasing the game," Pittsburgh winger Jared McCann said. "There are going to be teams out there that just keep pressing and play a full 60 minutes. We can't be sitting back. We have to push forward."
In fact, the Penguins are one comeback victory away from tying the franchise record for consecutive such wins. They have won four in a row in come-from-behind fashion six times, most recently in 2016-17.
Getting behind seems to ignite a spark. Coach Mike Sullivan would like for his club to find that spark before it gets to that point.
"It seems to be a little bit of a recurring theme where it takes that type of adversity in a game for us to respond," Sullivan said. "We've got to find ways to have better starts."
Just think how the Rangers feel. They were the ones who squandered the two-goal lead Friday.
"Just part of our learning curve," New York coach David Quinn said. "We have to understand situational hockey. If we're up 3-1 there's a certain way we have to play."
If the script begins to look familiar Sunday, the Rangers hope to respond differently.
"It's a learning experience," New York defenseman Adam Fox said. "You don't want to have too many of them, but I think we've been playing some good hockey, and we've just got to come away with wins."
Rangers rookie Alexis Lafreniere, the first overall pick in the 2020 draft, got bumped up to the top line for Friday's game but remains without a point.
"It's a new league and new teammates, linemates," he said. "I'm still trying to adjust to that. But I think I'll still get better and I'll try and get on the scoresheet for sure."
--Field Level Media