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Aftermath: Coyotes 4, Penguins 1

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins road woes continue as Pittsburgh fell to the Phoenix Coyotes, 4-1, on Thursday night at Arena. It’s the third straight loss for Pittsburgh away from Mellon Arena. Phoenix got on the board first with Olli Jokinen's goal at 7:53 of the second period as a Penguins penalty expired. The Penguins tied the game, 1-1, on a great play by Miroslav Satan, who scored a power-play goal with a baseball-style hack on an airborne puck. Phoenix reclaimed the lead with a power-play goal from Shane Doan at 17:59 of the second period. The Coyotes extended the lead, 3-1, with Kevin Porter’s first-career NHL goal at 14:49 of the third period. Doan sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with 58.2 seconds left. The Penguins played nearly the entire third period without Satan and Sidney Crosby. Satan served a 10-minute misconduct penalty. Crosby left the ice with an undisclosed injury and did not return. He’s listed as day-to-day.

               Mark Eaton and Ed Jovanovski battle for a loose puck (photo by Getty)
What Worked: Team Speed
The Penguins really got after it in the second period when they started to utilize their speed. Pittsburgh made crisper breakout passes and forced the issue in the offensive zone. The execution forced the Coyotes defense to back off, giving the Penguins more ice to work with. When Phoenix’s defense stayed tight at the blue line, Pittsburgh dumped the puck and used its speed to beat the Coyotes to the puck.

What Didn't Work: 5-on-3 advantage
Pittsburgh had a golden opportunity while trailing, 2-1, midway through the third period. Daniel Carcillo took a boarding penalty and six seconds later Kurt Sauer took a delay-of-game penalty. Phoenix kept one man low to handle Jordan Staal in front of the net, and two men high. Pittsburgh forced the puck to Evgeni Malkin for one-timers. He did get off a few shots but Pittsburgh never tried anything down low. A Satan hooking penalty negated the 5-on-3 and the opportunity evaporated.
Kris Letang made several great plays to keep Pittsburgh in the game. On a Pittsburgh power play, Mikkel Boedker picked up the puck with speed in the neutral zone. Letang was the last man back but was standing still. He did everything he could to catch Boedker. Letang closed the gap and dove in front of Boedker, knocking the puck off of Boedker’s stick without interfering with him. On a separate Pittsburgh power play, Viktor Tikhonov carried the puck into the Penguins zone with Daniel Winnik for a 2-on-1 chance. Letang got his stick down to take away the pass and then got a leg down to block Tikhonov’s shot. Later in the game, Coyotes defenseman Kurt Sauer had a breakaway opportunity after serving a penalty. Letang sprinted to make up significant ground and reach Sauer. Letang forced him to shoot wide.
Penguins fans represented at Arena in Phoenix. Early in the game, they led a loud “Let’s Go Pens!” chant and were vocal all evening.

Pittsburgh recorded two shots in the first period. The Penguins’ first shot on goal came at 15:32 when Mike Zigomanis blasted a slap shot on net during a penalty kill. The second shot came at 17:30 by Brooks Orpik, who pulled the trigger while leading a 3-on-2 rush.

Marc-Andre Fleury made a great split save on a one-timer by Peter Mueller during a delayed penalty call. Shane Doan had possession of the puck and skated away from the net along the boards. With the goalie pulled, Mueller jumped on the ice and skated free down the slot. Doan fed a pass right to his stick but Fleury came sliding across the crease to get a pad on the puck.

Evgeni Malkin made a great play that nearly resulted in a goal. He intercepted a Coyotes pass in the neutral zone and got up the ice quickly. Malkin split two defensemen and got a backhanded shot on net. Ilya Bryzgalov made the save but the rebound bounced out to Matt Cooke, who had a 2-on-0 with Petr Sykora. Cooke sent a crossing pass but Sykora’s one-timer went just wide of the post. Malkin then tried to stuff in the rebound. The puck eventually trickled into the net but the referee blew the play dead. Therefore, the goal was waved off.

Sidney Crosby had a great opportunity on the penalty kill. Crosby skated the puck out of his own zone with Maxime Talbot. Crosby crossed the blue line with two defenders backing up. Crosby took the puck wide right to force a one-on-one with Ed Jovanovski. He sent the puck through Jovanovski’s skates and burst around him. He retrieved the puck on his backhand and threw it to his forehand for a quick wrist shot that Bryzgalov knocked away with his blocker.

Moments after Crosby’s opportunity, Shane Doan made a great play to prevent a 3-on-2 shorthanded chance for the Penguins. An errand pass from the point skidded to Mark Eaton, who had Crosby and Jordan Staal sprinting the other way in anticipation of a transition pass. But Doan thieved the puck and set up Olli Jokinen for a great chance in the right dot.

Eaton’s failure to hit the transition not only negated a scoring opportunity but prevented Pittsburgh from getting a clear and line change. The extra possession time led to Phoenix notching the first goal of the game on a bang-bang play. Zbynek Michalek’s slap shot at the point missed the net to Fleury’s right. The puck came off the boards hard and right to the stick of Doan. The Coyotes captain quickly backhanded the puck across the crease to Jokinen, who buried the puck on a one-timer. The goal occurred just as the power play expired and counted as an even-strength goal.

The Penguins' leading goal scorer added to his total when he tied the game at 1-1. Miroslav Satan scored his fourth power-play goal (fifth overall) of the season on an athletic maneuver. Malkin blasted a shot from the point that missed the net. The puck caromed off the glass and deflected right to the top of the crease. Satan stayed with the puck while in the slot, slammed on the breaks and adjusted his body to get some power on the shot. Before the puck hit the ice, Satan batted it out of the air and hit all net.

After getting only two shots in the first period, the Penguins exploded for 18 shots in the second period. Pittsburgh’s performance in the second period was their best effort in recent memory. The team made better breakout and transition passes, and then used its speed to take the play to the Coyotes.

Phoenix took the lead, 2-1, with a Doan power-play goal. Hal Gill, playing for the first time in 11 days, tried to play the puck behind the net but his clearing attempt was blocked by Steven Reinprecht. Reinprecht brought the puck in front of the net. With Gill trapped behind the net, Rob Scuderi had to peel off of Doan and jump on Reinprecht, who made a quick cross-crease pass to an uncovered Doan. Doan nailed the puck into the net.

Malkin made a great defenisive play with the Penguins on the power play. Daniel Winnik pushed the puck past Alex Goligoski and to Doan for a 2-on-1. Malkin was the only man back. Doan tried to feed the puck back to Winnik but Malkin intercepted the pass.

Crosby left the ice in the third period with an undisclosed injury. He's been listed as day-to-day. Talbot took Crosby’s spot on the top line with Ruslan Fedotenko and Tyler Kennedy.

Former Penguin Daniel Carcillo nearly beheaded Sykora on the boards in the Penguins zone. The shot drew players together from both teams for a little "ice breaking." Carcillo, who is no stranger to the penalty box, received a two-minute boarding call. The man-advantage became a 5-on-3 when defenseman Kurt Sauer threw the puck over the glass. The opportunity ceased when Satan was called for a hooking penalty. In addition to the two-minute penalty, he received a 10-minute misconduct, which meant that Pittsburgh didn’t have the services of Satan and Crosby for a majority of the third period.

Kevin Porter scored his first-career NHL goal to give the Coyotes a 3-1 lead. Mueller intercepted Goligoski’s breakout pass and sent the puck to Reinprecht. Reinprecht push into the zone and got the puck through Goligoski and across the goal paint. Porter was on the edge to tip the puck into the net.

There was a bad sequence in the final two minutes for Sykora. First, he missed on a golden scoring opportunity in the high slot when he broke his stick on a shot. He then raced to get a new piece of graphite. As he got back into the zone he had another chance, but whiffed on the shot. It just wasn’t Pittsburgh’s night.
> Pittsburgh dropped to 5-4-2 on the year, with a 2-2-1 mark on the road.

> Pittsburgh lost its third straight road game, 0-2-1, on the current four-game road trip. The Penguins earned one point on the excursion and will finish the trip at St. Louis on Saturday.

> Phoenix opened the scoring at 7:53 of the second period on an Olli Jokinen goal. Pittsburgh tied the game, 1-1, with a power-play goal by Miroslav Satan. Shane Doan scored the eventual game-winner at 17:59 of the second period on a power play. Kevin Porter scored his first-career goal at 14:49 to give Phoenix a 3-1 lead. Doan capped the scoring with an empty-netter at 19:01.

> Evgeni Malkin recorded an assist in the game. He’s registered at least one point in 10 of Pittsburgh’s 11 games this season, and currently has a seven-game scoring streak. During that streak he’s compiled 13 points (2G-11A).

> Malkin has three goals and 13 assists for 16 points this season. His 16 points ties for most in the NHL, while his 13 assists are a league best.

> Satan scored his team-leading fifth goal of the season in the second period. It was also his fourth power-play goal of the year, also a team best.

> Pittsburgh registered 28 shots on goal in the game. It recorded only two shots in the first period but broke out for 18 in the second. The Penguins got eight shots in the final frame.
1. Shane Doan, PHX
2. Olli Jokinen, PHX
3. Steven Reinprecht, PHX
“We can't win games when we play only one period.”
- Max Talbot on the second period
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Author: Sam Kasan

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