Photo Credit: Norm Hall
COYOTES STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Ladislav Nagy - (C) Yanic Perreault - (RW) Shane Doan
(D) Keith Ballard - (D) Derek Morris
PENGUINS STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Ryan Malone - (C) Sidney Crosby - (RW) Mark Recchi
(D) Rob Scuderi - (D) Sergei Gonchar
Phoenix - Mikael Tellqvist
Pittsburgh - Jocelyn Thibault
On Saturday night, the Phoenix Coyotes two-game winning streak came to an end as they fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins by the score of 7-2.
It didn't take long for Pittsburgh's Sidney to make his presence felt at Jobing.com Arena, as he set up the first goal of the contest, just 24-seconds into the opening period. On the play, Pittsburgh's Mark Recchi was able to move the puck deep into the Phoenix zone, where Crosby made a quick pass from the corner to Ryan Malone in the slot; who one-timed a shot past goaltender Mikael Tellqvist for a 1-0 lead.
Following a successful penalty kill by the Coyotes on a holding call to Dave Scatchard, Phoenix would get their first chance on the man-advantage at 9:55 of the first; when Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu was sent to the box for holding.
On the ensuing power play, Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski blasted a slap shot from the point that was headed for the net, until Penguins' netminder Jocelyn Thibault made a great glove save to preserve the one-goal lead. The Coyotes would catch another break at 11:12 of the first when Penguins' forward Colby Armstrong was handed a delay-of-game penalty after his clearing attempt sailed over the glass from within his own zone. As a result, the Coyotes would have a two-man advantage for 43-seconds.
Phoenix would make the most of the extra attackers at 11:36 of the period when Ladislav Nagy made a nifty pass through the crease to an open Shane Doan at the right side of the net. Doan then calmly swept the puck past Thibault and into the Penguins' goal, tying the game at 1-1.
Unfortunately, the game wouldn't stay tied for long as the Penguins offense turned up the pressure and re-took the lead two minute later. This time it was forward Maxime Talbot, who found the back of the net when his wrist shot from the point, made it's way through traffic in fornt of the net and past the out-stretched glove of Tellqvist for a 2-1 Penguins lead.
While the Coyotes wouldn't be able to tied the score before the end of the period, they did send a message when Jovanovski laid a devastating check on Pittsburgh's Alain Nasreddine behind the Penguins' net. Nasreddine briefly crumbled to the ice and Jovanovski dealt with an angry Brooks Orpik before things were settled the final minutes of the period expired with Pittsburgh holding a one-goal lead after 20-minutes of play.
The Coyotes began the second period on the penalty kill due to a roughing penalty taken by Phoenix's Nick Boynton at the 20-minute mark of the first. While the Penguins did get pressure on Tellqvist, the Coyotes were able to hold their ground and return to full strength without giving up a goal.
As the period neared the halfway point, the Coyotes offense began to find a rhythm and get more shots to the net, a plan that would eventually see Phoenix tie the game at 2-2. The tying goal came at 10:37 of the second when a scrum in front of the Penguins' crease resulted in a loose puck at the top of the crease where Steven Reinprecht was waiting and able to blast it into the open goal for his third tally of the season.
Once again the Coyotes would be unable to use the momentum from the tying goal to take the lead, but rather saw the Penguins make the next mark on the scoreboard. At 13:16 of the second, and with Phoenix already in the process of killing off a charging call to Georges Laraque, Pittsburgh set up in the Coyotes zone where Sidney Crosby made a cross-ice slap shot pass to Ryan Whitney in the right face-off circle. Whitney then fired a one-timer past a sliding Tellqvist for a 3-2 Penguins lead.
Phoenix would have a chance to re-tie the game at 14:48 of the second when Penguin rookie Evgeni Malkin was taken to the box for hooking. But despite the extra attacker, the Coyotes would only be able to register a series of shots on goal and couldn't get the puck past Thibault to even the score for a third consecutive time.
Late in the stanza, Pittsburgh extended their lead to 4-2 when Jarkku Ruutu released a wrist shot from the right circle that made its way through the legs of Tellqvist and into the net.
The Coyotes couldn't cut into the deficit in the remainder of the period and would head to the locker room after two periods of play, trailing by two.
Early in the third period, the Coyotes returned to the penalty box when Yanic Perreault was called for hooking at 3:43. The penalty would prove costly for the Coyotes as Crosby made an unbelievable play from the bottom of the left face-off circle, as he was falling to the ice, to backhand a shot over the glove of Tellqvist and into the top corner of the net. Penguins forward Mark Recchi registered his third assist of the night on Crosby's 25th goal of the season.
Just 15-seconds later, the Penguins struck again, this time it was Ronald Petrovicky who grabbed a rebound and knocked it into the Coyotes goal, giving Pittsburgh a 6-2 lead.
Frustrations would boil over near the 11-minute mark when Josh Gratton grabbed Petrovicky and threw him to the ice where the two briefly traded punches. While Gratton escaped without physical injury, the Coyotes would feel the effects of his actions as the Penguins received a five-minute power play after the dust cleared.
The Coyotes were able to kill off the first half of the extended Penguins power play, but Pittsburgh would eventually make their way back onto the scoreboard at 12:16 of the third; when Mark Recchi grabbed the puck out of the air, dropped it to the ice and pushed it into the goal for 7-2 Penguins lead.
Phoenix tried to get back into the game over the remaining even minutes of play, but was unable to through the defense of the Pens' and solve Thibault. Ultimately, time would run out on the Coyotes as they dropped their first game to an Eastern Conference team this season, falling to Pittsburgh by the score of 7-2.