The Pittsburgh Penguins finally snapped the ugliest losing streak since head coach Mike Sullivan took over as head coach. The team built on the solid effort against Washington and helped Casey DeSmith deliver another shutout. The Penguins blanked Arizona 4-0 and everyone breathed a little easier.
It was DeSmith’s second shutout this season and third of his career.
The game was notable for the Penguins style of play. The team played a complete-team defensive system. The “five-man unit” was in effect for much of the game. On paper, Arizona out-chanced, out-shot and on paper, out-played the Penguins. However, in real life, the Penguins were the better team.
And DeSmith was great, if not spectacular when called upon.
The Penguins defense was soft without Oleksiak, and Juuso Riikola and Chad Ruhwedel were hemmed into their own zone too often. Those are two defensemen tasked with generating offensive production and possession but each was in-deep in scoring chance differential. Though Rikkola did chip paint off the posts in the first period with consecutive shots which clanged the iron.
It wasn’t a season-saving win. The Penguins are always good Western Conference teams and the Arizona Coyotes aren’t a playoff team, so the win is unlikely to soothe GM Jim Rutherford, but a loss would surely have sent him to the phones all night. A win allows everyone to move at their own pace.