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Smith, Coyotes hang on to defeat Penguins

by Jerry Brown

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Mike Smith looked at the 2015-16 schedule and saw that the Arizona Coyotes opened with back-to-back games against the Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins, he wasn't exactly overjoyed.

Smith made 11 of his 27 saves in the third period, and Jordan Martinook's first NHL goal lifted the Coyotes to a 2-1 victory Saturday against the Penguins.

Tobias Rieder also scored for the Coyotes, who defeated the Kings 4-1 on the road Friday and are 2-0-0 for the first time since 2009-10, when they also defeated the Kings and Penguins in that order.

"You saw those first few games we had and I don't know how many people would have given us a [2-0-0] record," said Smith, who has made saves on 67 of 69 shots he's faced and been named First Star in each game. "You'd be pretty surprised, given where we are picked to finish in the League.

"For the guys that have been here, it's a breath of fresh air. And for the new guys to come in and experience what it takes to win in this league, it will go a long way."

Smith was especially good in the final period, when the Penguins came hard to attempt to avoid an 0-2-0 start. A spectacular post-to-post save on Nick Bonino and a little help from the post on a Sergei Plotnikov shot allowed the Coyotes to earn the win.

"Smith has been outstanding, and as a team I thought we played better than we did the first game," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. "We have veteran players who are doing the job and young players who are earning ice time at the end of the game. We want to be a hardworking team and we'll see where that takes us."

Phil Kessel scored his first goal with the Penguins, unassisted in the second period, but Pittsburgh's high-powered offense was otherwise held in check for the second time on its season-opening two-game road trip. The Penguins failed on all four power-play chances and are 0-for-7 to start the season.

"We had some good chances late when we got desperate and they started to sit on the lead, but it just took way too long to generate those chances," said Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, who didn't have a shot on goal in either of the first two games and was held pointless on the trip. "I haven't had a ton of opportunities to shoot. I think you have to really work hard to get into those positions and I have to do a better job of getting there and getting pucks to the net."

Marc Andre-Fleury made 37 saves for Pittsburgh, which opens its home schedule Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens.

"We need to get our working boots on for the next few games," Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist said. "We can't go for swings (on shots); we have to stop the puck and get ready. We were the better team in the last period, but we couldn't find the net, and that can't happen.

After an action-packed first period that featured 24 shots but no goals, the Coyotes broke through when Rieder started a rush down the ice and finished it in front of the net for his second goal. Anthony Duclair won a puck battle behind the Pittsburgh net and found Rieder in the slot for a wrist shot that beat Fleury under the arm at 5:00.

"Both defensemen had an eye on [Arizona center Martin] Hanzal, and I just snuck in and the puck went right on my blade," said Rieder, who had 13 goals in 72 games last season. "It's a pretty good start to the season, two goals and two wins. I can't complain right now."

Arizona's lead lasted 17 seconds. Kessel, acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1, collected a Shane Doan turnover at center ice and loaded up a shot from the right circle that beat Smith to the far side. It was the Penguins' first goal in 85:17 to start the season; they lost 3-0 to the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

Arizona needed a little more than two minutes to regain the lead.

Fluery made a pad save on Martinook's shot from the slot, setting of a wild scramble in the Pittsburgh crease. The puck peeked out from under Fleury's right pad, and Martinook swept it in on the backhand at 7:29 for his first goal in his 10th NHL game.

"It was just a scrum at the net and the puck popped loose, so I just shoveled it into the net," said Martinook, who played eight games with the Coyotes in 2014-15, all losses. "I think I put it in twice to make sure. It's not pretty, but that's what we've got to do.

"We've relied on [Smith] a lot, and he's taken the challenge with open arms and he's why we're [2-0-0]. You can't say enough good things about him. We've played well at times, but there are other times when he's bailed us out."

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