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Penguins/Coyotes Recap: DeSmith shuts out Arizona as Pens break losing streak

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A good night for a 4-0 win for the Pittsburgh Penguins

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

Lineups

The Penguins insert Juuso Riikola into the lineup at the expense of making Jamie Oleksiak a healthy scratch. Casey DeSmith to man the net.

1st period

Not much going on early. The Coyotes get a penalty kill but they don’t score on the Pens’ power play. Given that Arizona is 9 short handed goals for and only 4 PPG against this year so far, that’s almost like a win for Pittsburgh to have a non-eventful turn up a man.

Shots are 13-12 Pittsburgh after 20 minutes.

2nd period

Sidney Crosby doing Sidney Crosby backhand things to get the Pens on the board. Goalie Darcy Kuemper even reads this well, he stays on his feet and up to try and protect the top half of the net, knowing a backhander could be coming from any angle to the top-shelf and it’s...Still not enough. 1-0 Pittsburgh.

Is secondary scoring even allowed?? Bryan Rust gets in on the patented Dividock bump (trademark pending) and puts a shot/pass to the net that Dominik Simon tips in past Kuemper to make it 2-0 Pens.

Patric Hornqvist shows why he’s getting the big bucks with a beauty of a top-corner shot to extend the lead to 3-0.

Shots are 16-10 Arizona in the period but the ones that matter are 3-0 Pittsburgh.

3rd period

Brian Dumoulin skates down the right side and flicks a quick shot away before the sliding shot-blocker can get there and it’s 4-0 Pens.

Rest of the game plays out calmly enough and the Pens skate away with the victory for the first time in six games.

Shots in the period are 11-9 Coyotes, DeSmith turns them all away to preserve his second shutout of the season.

Some thoughts

  • Loved the night from Simon tonight. Is in the right place at the right time to tip in a goal from just in front, and Simon’s pass to Hornqvist for the PPG from behind the net was a really nice one in terms of touch and timing before the two AZ players could converge on him.
  • Pittsburgh seems content to ride the hot hand of Casey DeSmith in net right now, and why not? He’s making all the saves he should make and the players are seeming to respond and play well in front of him. It’s always a great, great thing to have a reliable backup goalie to turn to when times are tough, and DeSmith is showing again this year that he is a very capable netminder.
  • And the Pens showed how engaged they were in the shot blocking department tonight. 23 blocks, led by Olli Maatta’s 4 including a really nice one in the first period to neutralize a dangerous shot. Juuso Riikola also got in the way of one that might have taken away a goal.
  • For all the grief he gets, Jack Johnson has been playing well with Kris Letang. Team-high 6 hits on the night for Johnson and ends a +1. Will take that every time.
  • Letang is still being a huge work-horse. Even in a game where the Pens were up comfortably for the majority of the game, Letang logged 26 minutes and performed well.
  • A very interesting note is how coach Mike Sullivan is using Crosby. Sid is double-shifting a bunch with the 3rd line wingers; who just happen to be the best two offensive-minded wingers on the team in Jake Guentzel and Phil Kessel. Crosby and Kessel almost never play together at even strength, so this concerted effort to get 87 and 81 out there at the same time opportunistically is a very interesting wrinkle that Sullivan is employing, particularly on offensive-zone starts.

And just like that the Pens break their losing streak and can feel good about a strong performance tonight. Pittsburgh gets back at it on Tuesday night on the road in New Jersey with the opportunity to redeem themselves from a 5-1 loss to the Devils last week.