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Crosby stays levelheaded with Penguins' playoff dreams in peril

Rich Graessle / Getty Images Sport / Getty

After making the playoffs for 16 consecutive campaigns, it's near impossible to imagine a postseason field that doesn't include the Pittsburgh Penguins, but that might soon become a reality.

The Penguins are barely holding onto a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Their already shaky positioning wasn't helped by their current three-game losing streak that saw them get outscored 10-2 by the New York Rangers in an embarrassing back-to-back set.

Despite the uncertainty of an underwhelming season, captain Sidney Crosby is remaining calm.

"We've been in those situations, and you gotta turn the page," Crosby told reporters Monday, two days after his side's rough 6-0 loss at Madison Square Garden. "Whether you win a game or lose a game, you gotta learn from it. It was a tough lesson. Those aren't fun games to be a part of, but you gotta move on.

"We know the importance of all the games from here on in. We've just gotta find a way to make sure we put a full 60 together, give ourselves a chance."

Prior to the Penguins' recent skid - their eighth multi-game losing streak of the season - they held the first wild-card spot and a two-point edge over the New York Islanders.

Now, the Islanders are ahead of the Penguins, while the Florida Panthers lie in wait after winning five of their last six games:

Team Position GP Points
New York Islanders WC1 71 (36-27-8) 80
Pittsburgh Penguins WC2 69 (34-25-10) 78
Florida Panthers No playoffs 69 (35-27-7) 77
Washington Capitals No playoffs 71 (33-31-7) 73
Buffalo Sabres No playoffs 69 (33-30-6) 72

Like the Panthers, the Islanders are also trending upwards with five victories in their last seven contests.

To be fair, the Penguins have had to deal with their fair share of injuries - two of their three trade deadline acquisitions are currently considered week-to-week - but they haven't been at their best this season. Pittsburgh has allowed 3.26 goals against per game, its worst clip since 2006-07, which is when the squad's impressive playoff streak began.

The organization fought to keep its iconic core of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang together in the offseason, and they've done their part. Crosby and Malkin are Pittsburgh's top two point-getters with 83 and 72, respectively, while Letang paces the team in average ice time (24:23).

The Penguins' next chance to snap the skid will come Monday against the Ottawa Senators.

Crosby stays levelheaded with Penguins' playoff dreams in peril
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