Bryan Rust (arm) is out so welcome back to the NHL Josh Archibald. Evgeni Malkin is close to returning but doesn't yet and boy this lineup up front doesn't look the strongest.
Let's Go Pens! pic.twitter.com/nRe9ZWtYop— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 12, 2017
Both teams trade a lot of chances early. Luckily for the Penguins the defenseman who's so terrible at defending (per narratives) saves a goal.
Nice save, Dales! pic.twitter.com/ItzFeI57OD— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 12, 2017
Shots on goal 7-7.
Some 4th line magic when Archibald scores his first career NHL goal (in career NHL game #2) to the Pens on the board and open the scoring by finding a rebound right out in front and putting it backhand by Mike Smith. 1-0.
The first lead wouldn't last long, Tobias Rieder scores for the Coyotes (as he seemingly always does against Pittsburgh) by stripping Justin Schultz of the puck and beating Fleury from the top of the circle with a wrist shot. 1-1.
RIEDER METER pic.twitter.com/8hP2LKReFF— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 12, 2017
Arizona jumps out to a 2-1 lead when Martin Hanzal beats Fleury by putting a rebound home.
Martin Hanzal wasn't content with a tie game. pic.twitter.com/oIkn6T9cx6— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 12, 2017
Jake Guentzel almost ties the game but Mike Smith shuts the door.
Shots 19-16 Pittsburgh after 2.
Hanzal gets his second goal of the game with Fleury, um, not displaying the best puck awareness until he slid all the way out of the net to make it 3-1.
Double dose of Hanzal. pic.twitter.com/8NXQToIeQs— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 12, 2017
The Pens get back in it, with none other than Archibald getting a goal. Mike Smith is one of the best puckhandling goalies in the league, but he gives up an absolute gift here. 3-2. Nifty little kick from skate out to stick here.
Josh Archibald is officially in Mike Smith's head. pic.twitter.com/X1CQWkJTgf— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 12, 2017
The Penguins look like they're headed for a regulation loss but Phil Kessel comes through to tie it with 15 seconds left. Kris Letang blasts a point-shot, Jake Guentzel clicks at the rebound and Kessel is there to clean it up. 3-3.
Retweet if you love Phil Kessel. pic.twitter.com/QZfmD3MZYU— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 12, 2017
Shots 28-24 Penguins after regulation.
Pittsburgh gets a power play but can't score, the ensuing play is 4v4 until there's a whistle. There isn't a whistle because defenseman Connor Murphy scores his first goal of the season in his 48th game by somehow sending a puck from long-range, short-side by Fleury for the winner.
- Sidney Crosby held without points for 2 straight games since Feb 24-27 2016. Pretty remarkable since the 2 games were against the teams 27th and 28th overall in goals against so far this season.
- Usually coach Mike Sullivan's MO has been to play Matt Murray as much as possible, except for back-to-back games. He elected to start Fleury tonight, on the last leg of the father's trip. Sentimental decision? Who knows. Fleury hasn't been terrible of late but wasn't very good tonight, stopping just 21 of 25 shots with even worse the last 2 (if not 3) being ones you would hope an NHL goalie keeps out of the net. Momma said there'll be days like this, but based off the evidence tonight, one would have to think Sullivan goes back to playing Murray heavily except for the b-2-b's.
- The Penguins didn't look terribly interested tonight. Generated a lot of chances, but looked more to pass than shoot and show a killer instinct. Easy to say from a keyboard but it wouldn't hurt to look to the net a little more.
- At the same time with Malkin, Rust and Conor Sheary out that's three of the team's "top-6" forwards. Tough to score a lot missing that much firepower up front- accounting for 51 goals so far this season out of the 190 coming into the night (26.8% total).
- All those missing guys opened up for Guentzel to play a career high 20:19 and look really good doing so. The more you see of Guentzel the more you want to see more...
- Along the lines of ice-time (and Crosby going 2 games point-less), Chris Kunitz was up to 18:53 (2nd highest for him all season behind 10/20 vs SJS) and only mustered 1 shot on goal. 1st line old man Kunitz not so great.
- Nice night for Archibald, seemed like he was getting lost in the shuffle but with Rust out, the Pens needed to fill in for a fast-skating, RW who could kill penalties. Archibald fits that mold and though he's had issues producing points (he's but 8th on the WB/S Pens with 22 points in 48 games this season), you wouldn't know it by tonight. Good on him, and good for the organization to actually have quality depth up front and not have to call-up Sill/Farnham/Porter types alone who are incapable of scoring 2 NHL goals in one game.
Disappointing end of the trip, the Penguins haven't been that sharp in the past week. But the Pens get 2 days off (and hopefully Malkin back) when they next play against Vancouver at home on Tuesday night.