The Penguins (16-14-3) came into this Saturday night showdown with the Coyotes (7-22-5) after losing their last game to the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 2-1. Looking to break a 3-game losing streak, the Penguins were hoping to ignite a spark to get back to their winning ways.
The Penguins’ lineup looked like this:
And the Coyotes came out with this lineup:
The first bit of notable action came about five minutes in when Max Domi was sent off for roughing Chad Ruhwedel when Ruhwedel sent Domi’s teammate, Clayton Keller, into the boards. The Coyotes would eventually kill the penalty.
At the halfway point of the period, Oliver Ekman-Larsson was sent to the sin bin for tripping Jake Guentzel, giving the Penguins their second power-play of the period. This penalty was killed as well, and the Penguins were already 0-2 on the power-play.
With less than a minute left in the period, Evgeni Malkin and former Penguin, Alex Goligoski, were sent off for matching slashing penalties.
The Penguins controlled the flow for most of this period and spent a lot of time in the offensive zone, which is a huge positive, but none of it resulted in a goal. The lack of success on the power-play is something that continued to plague the Penguins, and it doesn't help that they continue to struggle with even-strength scoring as well.
The period would soon end and both teams went into the locker room with two goose eggs on the board.
Some stats after one:
At the 6:20 mark of the 2nd, Max Domi was called for tripping Malkin, and the Penguins were granted a third power-play. This power-play produced a much better effort by the Penguins. They were able to get many pucks to the net, but a stout Antti Raanta and a few wide shots were the difference here.
Seconds later, Max Domi was sent right back into the box as he dumped the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. This was Domi’s third penalty of the contest.
The Penguins were doing everything except putting the puck into the net, and alas, this penalty would be successfully killed.
With about six minutes to go in the period, Ian Cole was called for interfering with Clayton Keller.
Right after the opening face-off on the Arizona power-play, Carter Rowney would finally break the scoreless tie. With a shorthanded rush and with a sweet backhand feed from Bryan Rust, Rowney would not be denied.
The penalty would later be killed by Pittsburgh.
With 1:02 to go in the period, the Penguins rushed to Raanta’s net with speed, and Evgeni Malkin would win the net-front battle to help the Pens go up 2-0.
Whack! Whack! GOALLLLL! pic.twitter.com/tc8OqLyQ4M— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 17, 2017
Then, with 8.7 seconds to go, Nick Cousins would cut the deficit in half. The defense here was, uh, not good.
The numbers after forty minutes:
Numbers through the 2nd. Lookin' good! pic.twitter.com/2VA7uqRESx— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 17, 2017
Five minutes into the period, Ian Cole was called for cross-checking, giving the Coyotes some life to tie the game. Not much came on this power-play for the ‘Yotes and the Penguins would eventually bail Cole out.
At the 9:43 mark of the period, the Penguins’ sloppiness in their own zone would allow Max Domi to tie the game. There was a turnover in front of the net, chaos ensued, and Domi would not miss the wide open net.
Max makes it even! 2-2 pic.twitter.com/IOTVuyFCNl— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) December 17, 2017
With about three minutes to go, there was a massive pile-up in front of Matt Murray. The puck was inches from crossing the line, but Olli Maatta and the rest of the Penguins helped clear the puck away from the net.
With 14.8 seconds to go, Olli Maatta took a shot from the blue line, the puck traveled by two bodies, and the Penguins would get the last-minute goal to escape Arizona with a hard-fought victory.
Seconds later, Sidney Crosby gained the red line and buried the empty-netter to seal this one by a score of 4-2.
- Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby were everywhere tonight. Crosby was firing on all cylinders, especially close to and behind the net, and Malkin’s play was rewarded with a dirty goal.
- Antti Raanta was the only reason this game wasn't a one-sided blowout. The Arizona goalie made many crazy saves to keep his team in the game, but it just wasn't enough to warrant a victory.
- How about Olli Maatta? The 23-year-old Finn made a game-saving play in his own end, then helps the Penguins get the W with a GWG.
- A win’s a win, but the play on the power-play and at even-strength remain points of struggle.
- The Penguins are back in action on Monday night when they travel to Colorado to do battle once again with the Avalanche.
- And finally, congrats to Mike Sullivan on his 100th victory as the Penguins’ head coach.