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Penguins vs. Coyotes Recap: 3 point night for Phil Kessel

The Pittsburgh Penguins get a mini-offensive breakout and take down the Arizona Coyotes 3-1 at home.

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins welcomed back defenseman Justin Schultz from a concussion, and a welcome sight he was, scoring the first goal on the game against the Arizona Coyotes just 59 seconds into the contest.

Playing with the team’s new second line of Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, Schultz jumped down into the play, received a pass from Malkin and was looking to center the puck for Guentzel at the net but the puck went in off of goalie Antti Raanta.

The Pens second line struck again their next shift, with this time Kessel sending a shot to the net that Malkin knocked out of mid-air past Raanta to make the goal 2-0 just 3:07 in. It had been 10 games since Pittsburgh had scored more than one goal at 5-on-5 and just like that they had 2 early in this game.

The game settled at this point, with no goals coming until early in the 3rd period when Tobias Rieder brought the Coyotes within a goal. Pittsburgh would answer soon after on the power play with Kessel knocking a puck out of mid-air to make it 3-1.

For Pittsburgh, tonight was a necessary win over the last place team in the league. The Pens now prepare for a tricky weekend with 2 road games, the first Friday night in Washington then Saturday against Nashville.

Some Thoughts

  • The Pens power play went 1 for 6, finally scoring on their last opportunity. ARZ coach Rick Tocchet (former Penguins power play coach) had the visitors in good position on the Pens breakouts, including the back pass in the neutral zone that they love to use.
  • Pittsburgh did good, for once, staying out of the box, only taking 1 minor penalty on the night. Discipline like that hasn’t been in large quantities for the defending champs.
  • The new 2nd line of Guentzel-Malkin-Kessel looks to be making some waves with generating two ES goals, plus Malkin and Kessel figuring into the PP goal as well.
  • Shots for the game ended up 37-25 Pittsburgh. The were 27-15 after 2 periods, the game felt well in hand pretty much from the quick start.
  • In the “for what it’s worth” file, Sidney Crosby didn’t have a shot on goal (though he did have 3 shot attempts). Crosby played 8:22 on the power play alone in the game. He’s not dialed in right now, so maybe a trip to DC where he always plays well might help kick up the competitive juices.
  • Riley Sheahan took advantage of a turnover to get a look at a clean shot on net and...put the puck off the crossbar. So close, yet so far from his first goal as a Penguin.
  • It was Hockey Fights Cancer night, and cancer survivor Olli Maatta had 3 shots on goal, 2 hits and a blocked shot in 18:54 of quietly solid play. Fellow cancer survivor Kessel obviously had a much more impactful night with the goal + 2 assists.