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Coyotes, Malkin Gaffe Put Penguins Through Living Howl, 5-2



The Pittsburgh Penguins had a noteworthy streak end Monday night.

They lost to Arizona, 5-2, at Mullett Arena in Tempe, after winning 11 consecutive games against the Coyotes.

It was no consolation that they got another streak started, losing consecutive games in regulation for the first time since Dec. 6-8.

If anything, this one was even more of a gut-punch than their excruciating 3-2 loss in Las Vegas two nights earlier, when they gave up three unanswered goals in the third period, because this time, the Penguins scored the goal that effectively decided the outcome.

Into their own net.

Evgeni Malkin was the culprit, when he tried to handle a Kris Letang pass with one hand in front of the net goalie Tristan Jarry had vacated because a delayed penalty was going to be called on Arizona.

When Letang slid a drop pass to Malkin deep in the Penguins’ zone, Malkin attempted to control the puck with one hand on the stick, but instead deflected it into the empty net to give Arizona a 4-2 lead.

The Penguins, who had been 13-0-1 against Arizona since Mike Sullivan was named coach, fell to 21-17-6.

The game matched the goalies tied for the league lead in shutouts — Arizona’s Connor Ingram and Jarry — and it didn’t take long for one of them to lose any chance of claiming sole possession of the top spot.

That’s because former Penguins winger Jason Zucker beat Jarry from the front lip of the crease at 2:23 of the opening period, giving the Coyotes a 1-0 lead.

The goal was set up by West Mifflin native Logan Cooley, who used one arm to sweep the puck to Zucker from deep in the right circle. Cooley’s assist was his 18th of the season.

Falling behind did not bode well for the Penguins, because the Coyotes entered the game with a 14-4-2 record when getting the first goal.

Ingram passed his first major test of the evening impressively, when he stopped Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby on a breakaway at 11:12. Crosby, who’d scored 26 goals in the previous 43 games, was sprung behind the Arizona defense by a deft pass from Letang.

The Penguins, 0-for-11 on the power play in their previous four games, got a chance with the extra man when Cooley high-sticked Jake Guentzel at 15:59, but didn’t seriously threaten to score.

Both teams recorded two shots on goal while Cooley was in the penalty box.

Jarry came up with a big-time stop of his own a bit less than 90 seconds into the second period, denying Coyotes winger Lawson Crouse after he broke in alone following an Erik Karlsson turnover.

Ingram lost his shutout bid a few minutes later, as Lars Eller scored from inside the left dot at 4:50. The goal, Eller’s eighth, was made possible by P.O Joseph, who carried the puck from near the Penguins’ blue line to the Arizona end before giving it to Eller.

Joseph, a first-round draft choice of the Coyotes in 2017, was called for slashing at 5:42, but the Penguins killed that penalty.

Arizona manufactured a go-ahead goal at 11:04, however, as defenseman Juuso Valimaki worked free in the slot and threw a shot past Jarry on the stick side. It was Valimaki’s first goal in 31 games this season.

Although the Penguins failed to capitalize on a 55-second power play later in the period, Crosby tied the game one second after Arizona returned to full-strength.

He was below the right circle and chipped a feed from Karlsson, who was in the slot, past Ingram at 16:30 for his 27th of the season and the 577th of his career, pulling him even with long-ago linemate Mark Recchi for 21st place on the NHL’s all-time list.

The goal also gave Crosby a point in nine consecutive games against the Coyotes; Malkin’s assist gave him a similar streak versus Arizona, while Karlsson’s assist extended his overall points streak to nine games.

Whatever lift the Pittsburgh Penguins got from being even again didn’t last long, however.

Just 91 seconds after Crosby scored, Alex Kerfoot put the Coyotes back in front by beating Jarry from the right side of the crease. Zucker got the lone assist.

The Penguins then self-destructed while killing a penalty at 4:10 of the third, when Malkin mishandled the Letang pass into his own net.

The goal was credited to Crouse, because he was the last Coyote to touch the puck before it ended up in the net.

Predictably enough, that own-goal deflated the Penguins, and former Penguins forward Nick Bjugstad snuffed any comeback hopes they might have been harboring when he got behind the defense and stuck a shot over Jarry’s glove to put the Coyotes up by three.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will travel home from Arizona Tuesday. They are scheduled to practice Wednesday at noon at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.