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Penalty Kill Punctuates Win

by Tony Jovenitti / Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins were three for five on the power play Monday night, and Evgeni Malkin participated in all three special teams goals. But somehow, the man-advantage wasn’t even the best special team for the Penguins in a 6-1 win over Phoenix at CONSOL Energy Center.

The Penguins killed off eight penalties – seven of which were during the first two periods – for another perfect night on the penalty kill.

“Our killers did a great job, with shot blocking from numerous guys, and (Marc-Andre Fleury) was great in there,” head coach Dan Bylsma said.

The night was highlighted by a two-minute five-on-three chance for the Coyotes in the middle of four shorthanded minutes for Pittsburgh that the Penguins emphatically killed off.

“At that point in the game, it raised our intensity level and raised our focus,” Bylsma said. “It was a great job killing them off and we were able to keep our focus and play our team game in the third period.”

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The Penguins already had a five-goal lead halfway through the game, and Mike Rupp went to the box for hooking 13:25 into the second. Thirty seconds later, Matt Cooke got called for roughing to create a two-man advantage for the Coyotes.

After a quick clear by the Penguins, Brooks Orpik was sent off for hooking just 41 seconds after Cooke.

That made for three Penguins in the box at the same time – two of which were the Penguins’ best penalty killers. So Craig Adams, Maxime Talbot and Zbynek Michalek took to the ice facing the daunting task of keeping Shane Doan and Ray Whitney from scoring with plenty of time and space to do so.

“I wasn’t worried,” Michalek said.

The Coyotes registered just one shot on the two-minute five-on-three.

“Everybody stepped up and we did a real good job,” Michalek said.

The Penguins have now allowed only 17 power play goals on 144 chances for an 88.2 percent success rate, bumping Pittsburgh over Montreal into first place for the best PK in the NHL.

The Penguins’ penalty killers often deflect credit to the goaltender, frequently saying that “the goaltender is the best penalty killer.”

That may be true for most nights – and Fleury certainly performed well between the pipes – but the PK unit only allowed six shots on eight penalty kills.

“We just wanted to make sure that we got back to playing hard and not giving any good chances, keeping them on the outside and letting them shoot from there,” Michalek said. “If Flower can see the puck from the outside, he’s going to stop most of them.”

“All night long the guys did a great job,” Fleury said. “On the five-on-three, they didn’t get many shots. So it was great to see.”

With the team up by five, it could be easy for the penalty kill to let up. But it seemed as if the Penguins’ PK only got better as the night went on.

“We just want to play a full 60-minute game,” Michalek said. “And we also did it for Flower. He’s been there for us all the time, and we didn’t want to just let up and let them score a few goals.”

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