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game recap

Hornqvist's hat trick lifts Penguins over Coyotes

Forward has four goals, seven points in past six games

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

Hornqvist's first hat trick

ARI@PIT: Hornqvist nets three early goals vs. Coyotes

2/29/16: Patric Hornqvist knocks in three goals to collect his first career hat trick, giving the Penguins a comfortable lead in the 2nd

  • 01:08 •

PITTSBURGH - Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan described Monday as horrendous, but Patric Hornqvist, Marc-Andre Fleury and the remaining Pittsburgh Penguins would likely disagree. 

Hornqvist scored his first NHL hat trick and Fleury earned his 43rd career shutout to help the Penguins defeat the Coyotes 6-0 at Consol Energy Center on Monday. 

"It feels great to get that one, the first out of the way," Hornqvist said. "Hopefully there's more coming. I've been struggling to get the third goal. I think I have 20, almost 20 games with two goals and I couldn't get the third one. It's nice to get one tonight." 

In his eight-year NHL career, Hornqvist had scored exactly two goals in 18 games entering Monday. He matched that total in the first period to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. 

Forward Chris Kunitz forced a turnover behind the Arizona net and fed Sidney Crosby in the left circle, where Crosby slid a pass into the Coyotes crease. Hornqvist battled defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Michael Stone, and forward Antoine Vermette before backhanding a shot past goalie Louis Domingue 5:42 into the first. 

Video: ARI@PIT: Kunitz deflects Letang's wrister for score

After Arizona sent two shots off of the post during a 5-on-3 midway through the first, Hornqvist scored again to earn his first multi-goal game of the season. Crosby threaded a pass between two Coyotes to Kunitz, who took a shot that Hornqvist bounced off the ice and under Domingue's glove with 2:14 left in the period. 

Pittsburgh (32-21-8) handed Arizona (27-30-6) a sixth consecutive loss. The Penguins lead the Philadelphia Flyers by three points for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Kunitz extended the Penguins lead to 3-0 when he tipped a slap shot from Kris Letang past Domingue 9:47 into the second period. Hornqvist completed the hat trick just over one minute later, causing a swarm of "Sock Penguins", a promotional giveaway item Monday, to sail onto the ice. 

Evgeni Malkin charged toward the Arizona net, drawing Domingue left, before finding Hornqvist alone back to Domingue's right. Hornqvist one-timed a wrist shot into a wide-open net with 8:54 left in the second for his 15th goal of the season, extending Pittsburgh's lead to 4-0. 

Hornqvist has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his past six games. After scoring five goals and 10 points in his first 32 games, Hornqvist has rebounded with 10 goals and 27 points in his past 29. 

"Regardless of whether [Hornqvist] scores or he doesn't score, he brings a lot to the table," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "I think he's one of those guys, he's a meat and potatoes player. He goes hard to the net. He plays in the battle areas. He helps you retrieve pucks in the offensive zone. He blocks shots in the defensive zone. So, he plays a hard game and he's difficult to play against." 

Letang scored his 11th goal of the season, which tied his career high, and forward Matt Cullen scored his ninth 16 seconds apart to push Pittsburgh's lead to 6-0 with 1:29 remaining. 

Fleury, who is 11-3-1 in his past 14 starts, made 30 saves for his fifth shutout of the season. 

Video: ARI@PIT: Letang rifles a snap shot by Domingue

The only two shots that got by Fleury, one from Ekman-Larsson and another from Stone on the 5-on-3, ricocheted off the post. After the two shots 20 seconds apart, Fleury rubbed the crossbar in appreciation, a customary ritual of his. 

"It's always nice [when the posts help]," Fleury said. "Just have to give a little 'Thank you' … When I was a kid, I think I heard Patrick Roy was doing that and I started doing it too. So, a little love once in a while doesn't hurt, right?" 

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said the 5-on-3 provided an opportunity for Arizona to remain competitive, but it failed to take advantage. 

"We didn't play very well from the goaltender out. Nobody played very well," Tippett said. "We had that power play in the first, the two-man advantage, maybe if we could've got one there maybe that would've given us something to grab onto to, but there's not much to grab onto all night." 

Forward Sergei Plotnikov made his Coyotes debut against his former team after being traded from the Penguins earlier Monday for American Hockey League forward Matthias Plachta and a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. Plotnikov, who had two assists in 32 games with Pittsburgh, last played against the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 6. 

Plotnikov played 12:10 across 17 shifts with one shot. 

After a day that included three Arizona trades, Doan said focusing was a challenge, but didn't excuse the Coyotes' performance. 

"It's really difficult," Doan said. "It doesn't really matter. We were horrendous." 

Video: Hornqvist, Fleury lead Penguins in shutout

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