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Boedker, Greiss lead Coyotes past Penguins

by Wes Crosby

PITTSBURGH -- The Phoenix Coyotes avoided surrendering a third-period lead on back-to-back nights, holding on to a one-goal lead throughout the final 20 minutes to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday.

Coyotes goaltender Thomas Greiss made 23 saves, 15 in second and third periods after allowing two goals in the first, and Mikkel Boedker scored the game-winning goal with 6:42 remaining in the second for Phoenix.

Greiss, who had been previously scheduled to play against Pittsburgh, was backed up by rookie Mark Visentin rather than starter Mike Smith, who is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Smith was injured Monday night, when the Coyotes blew a 3-2 lead in the third period of their game against the New York Rangers and lost 4-3 in overtime.

"I thought we were solid," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "For the most part, it was a hard road game. Greiss made some saves when he had to. … I thought our compete level was very good tonight, and it allowed us a chance to win."

Defenseman Michael Stone, who blocked a shot from Penguins forward James Neal in the game's final minute, said the Coyotes are satisfied with earning three points in the past two days.

"Last night is obviously heartbreaking for us," Stone said. "I thought we played a good game. We just couldn't close, but tonight we managed to do that. So, that's just building our confidence."

The Coyotes temporarily prevented the Penguins from assuring themselves of a Stanley Cup Playoff berth, which Pittsburgh could have clinched with a win. Phoenix increased its lead for the Western Conference's second wild-card spot to three points on the Dallas Stars, who lost to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Pittsburgh has lost five of seven (2-4-1) but owns a 13-point lead in the Metropolitan Division on the second-place Rangers.

"Tonight, for whatever reason, whether we didn't really recover from an emotional game [against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday], we didn't have that same jump and energy tonight," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "We didn't execute well, so just get back to that and hopefully get a win here in the next game."

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped 26 shots, has not won in five starts since earning his 34th win of the season by shutting out the Washington Capitals on March 11.

After a back-and-forth first period that resulted in a 2-2 tie, the Coyotes scored the lone goal of a defensive second period to carry a one-goal lead into the third.

With Jussi Jokinen in the penalty box for slashing Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette, Boedker scored his fifth power-play goal of the season. Boedker collected the puck at the skates of Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik and Coyotes forward Shane Doan before wristing a shot over Fleury's left shoulder and into the upper-left corner of the net with 5:13 remaining in the period.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was not pleased with Pittsburgh's lack of composure.

"It's in the offensive zone, it's retaliatory, it's undisciplined. It's a slash to the back of the legs," Bylsma said. "Talk about lack of composure, I guess that's it. It's a retaliatory to a hit, a cross-check to [Jokinen's] back, but he makes a play that's 200 feet from our goalie, and that's the one that ends up in the back of our net.

"That's rare on our team. Obviously, giving up two goals on the PK, but the undisciplined penalty there is the difference in the game. It is frustrating."

It was the 18th goal for Boedker, who had an assist Phoenix's second first-period goal.

After the Penguins possessed the puck for more than two minutes midway through the first period, Phoenix capitalized on a turnover to score the game's first goal.

Olli Maatta raced to the puck behind the Pittsburgh net and attempted a pass to Matt Niskanen that was intercepted by Martin Hanzal. Hanzal slid the puck to David Moss, who chipped it behind Fleury at 9:06 for his first goal since Jan. 30 and seventh this season.

Jokinen appeared to tie the game on a power play 2:55 later, when he one-timed a pass from Neal past a diving Greiss, but the puck appeared to hit the crossbar and the goal was waved off. The play was reviewed more than three minutes later, and Jokinen was awarded his 18th goal after it was ruled his shot hit the goal camera in the back of the net.

"We had one just recently for us, and it was big," Doan said. "We thought it went in when it happened. We talked to guys on the bench and we were like, 'Hey, yeah, that's a goal.' So, it's one of those disappointing ones. It's the way it is."

Fleury preserved the tie by stopping Martin Erat on a breakaway with 6:35 remaining in the first, but the Coyotes retook the lead a little more than a minute later when Vermette poked the puck, which had settled between Fleury's pads, into the upper-right corner of the net for a 2-1 Phoenix lead with 5:13 until the first intermission.

Penguins forward Taylor Pyatt tied the game again with 4.1 seconds left in the period by deflecting a Rob Scuderi slap shot past Greiss. Pyatt had not scored a goal in his previous 16 games.

Pittsburgh played without forward Evgeni Malkin, who will miss 2-3 weeks due to a foot injury. Malkin is second on the Penguins with 72 points, 23 behind Crosby, and tied for third with 23 goals.

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