PITTSBURGH — The disappointing Pittsburgh Penguins season has gotten stranger.

Statistically the NHL’s worst defensive team, the Penguins have allowed nine goals the past three games — tied for their lowest total over a three-game stretch during any point this season.

But as soon as the Penguins find themselves tightening up in their own end, their scoring touch has deserted them. Pittsburgh has scored only four goals in three games — matching the worst three-game stretch of the season — going into Saturday’s home game against the Calgary Flames.

“Right now, we’re not finishing,” coach Eddie Olczyk said Friday. “We’re doing really well, but the end result is unacceptable.”

Most of the blame for the Penguins’ 7-13-6 record falls with the sloppy defensive play signified by a goals against average (4.00) that ranks last in the league and a penalty-killing percentage (77.3) that places 27th of the 30 teams.

But on a team with the offensive firepower to score plenty of goals, the Penguins feel that the defensive troubles are being addressed, the goals will come and the team can climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Penguins were 11 points behind eighth-place Tampa Bay going into Friday’s NHL play.

“If you keep playing the right way, eventually the right things will happen,” Mark Recchi said. “You have to realize that. Keep doing good things. Keep playing hard. Eventually the goals will go in.”

One thing the Penguins did not and will not do, said Olczyk, is sacrifice offense for the sake of better play in their own end. The fact that the team has allowed fewer goals as it scores less is purely a coincidence.

“I don’t think playing good defense is the reason we are not producing,” rookie forward Sidney Crosby said. “We just have to take advantage of our opportunities.”

Another problem is that Ziggy Palffy — tied with Crosby for the team lead in scoring with 28 points in 26 games — left Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers in the second period due to a groin injury. Olczyk said he is questionable for Saturday’s contest.

Palffy skated Friday before practice. With a four-day break following Saturday’s game, Olczyk was optimistic Palffy would only miss only one game if he doesn’t play Saturday.

“He’s played well the past 15 to 18 games,” Olczyk said. “Certainly, taking his creativity off the line with Erik (Christensen) and Sid ... we are having a tough enough time scoring goals.”

Rookie Maxime Talbot took Palffy’s place between Crosby and Christensen after Palffy was injured. Olczyk said either Lasse Pirjeta, a healthy scratch Thursday, or Shane Endicott, now on the injured reserve list, would replace Palffy in the lineup.

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