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5 Keys to Penguins Snapping Their Losing Streak

What can the Pittsburgh Penguins do to end their losing streak?

The Pittsburgh Penguins are facing their first losing streak of the season, and  coach Mike Sullivan is not happy with his team's play. In a recent media session, coach Sullivan criticized his team's inconsistent efforts. He pointed specifically to their "lack of detail," as one of the biggest concerns.

With two more games remaining on their road trip, the Penguins are a few adjustments away from getting back on track. Here are five keys to snapping this two game slide.

1. Tristan Jarry 

When your team is playing inconsistently, sometimes you need your goaltender to steal a game for you. That's exactly what the Penguins need. Goaltending has not been the issue for the Penguins through their first six games, but they need a little more from that position to get back in the win column.

Tristan Jarry is likely to get the start in Vancouver, and he'll need to flip the page quickly after his disappointing start in Edmonton. The Penguins need their number one goalie to step up and shut the door.

2. Keep Rust with Malkin

The Penguins' top six has looked elite to begin the year. Without Jake Guentzel and Jason Zucker, coach Sullivan opted to juggle his lines and elevate Bryan Rust to the first line with Sidney Crosby and Rickard Rakell. This left Jeff Carter and Danton Heinen on Evgeni Malkin's wing. No thank you.

The Penguins need to play Rust with Malkin. Not only do they play well together, it also balances the top two lines. In the absence of Guentzel and Zucker, loading up on the top line isn't helping the team. Rather, the team needs to balance out the lines and hopefully get production across the lineup.

Playing Rust with Malkin immediately improves the second line and gives the team a much more potent 1-2 punch on offense.

3. Special Teams 

When a team struggles, one of the most effective ways to right the ship is relying on the special teams play. The Penguins power play has been up and down so far, but they're still getting results. They are 7 for 29 so far this season, good enough to be 11th in the league with a 24% conversion rate.

The Penguins' penalty kill is looking for answers. They are currently ranked 28th in the league, with a disappointing 72% penalty kill rate. Those numbers have to improve if the team as a whole wants to succeed.

As the team tries to end their two game slide, playing disciplined hockey to stay out of the box and converting on their power play chances are even more important.

4. More Kasperi Kapanen

In the loss against the Flames, Kasperi Kapanen played a little over 12 minutes. In the loss against the Oilers, he registered 13:40 in ice time. Despite this, Kapanen is off to a much better start than last season.

Kapanen has one goal and four assists in seven games played, alternating between the second and third lines. With his improved play so far this season, Kapanen can bring more to this team's offense, and it's time to give him that chance. 

5. Jeff Petry & Marcus Pettersson

The Penguins' big off-season move was the acquisition of veteran Jeff Petry. In seven games, he's registered four points, three of which came in the victory against the Los Angeles Kings. He's averaging slightly more than 20 minutes a game playing with Marcus Pettersson, and coach Sullivan is very impressed with them. 

Pettersson seems to be enjoying a resurgence playing next to Petry. Along with his noted defensive game, Pettersson has already registered four assists in his seven games played.

With the third pairing still in flux, and the top pairing of Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang still figuring things out, the second pairing of Petry and Pettersson is all the more important to the Penguins ending the losing streak. 

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