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Penguins Room: Zucker Chirps Guentzel Postgame, ‘Jake Paid Him Off’

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Jason Zucker

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Pittsburgh Penguins’ room has been devoid of chirping and teasing, mocking and carrying on, for the past week. In Las Vegas, both Bryan Rust and Jason Zucker sat quietly as the team contemplated its (then) six-game winless streak.

Rust and Zucker are the Statler and Waldorf, the Don Rickles, the class cutups of the Penguins’ locker room. When they are quiet, it’s really quiet.

The Penguins earned a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes at Mullett Arena Sunday night. Earned is apt, even if the game didn’t start well, and the Penguins were shaky at points. Get the Penguins recap here and the PHN+ report card here.

Jake Guentzel had two goals, each at 5v5, his first of that variety since Nov. 5. Jeff Carter scored the empty-netter, and Jason Zucker scored, too.

With the feel-good win, the chirping resumed. And, of course, it was Zucker.

JASON ZUCKER:

Did Guentzel’s second goal, a whiff by Arizona goalie Karel Vejmelka, give the bench a boost — like a good omen?

“I think Jake paid (the goalie), paid him off for that one,” Zucker said before breaking into a smile.

Zucker also scored. It was a beauty set-up by Evgeni Malkin on the rush. As Malkin stickhandled, he pulled the defensemen forward, and Zucker slipped behind them.

Zucker roofed a backhander, for which he also had jokes. The Penguins were feeling much better Sunday night.

 

P.O Joseph:

Joseph showed off his speed a couple of times Sunday. On one of the Penguins’ second-period plays, he raced the length of the ice and past the Arizona defenders.

Otherwise, it was a low-event game without much offense or flare.

“I think it’s how we’ve got to manage the puck,” Joseph said. “You know they are very structured … we wanted to put the puck behind them and go to work on that.”

The Penguins limited Arizona to just three shots in the third period, but Joseph did have to speak to the power play, which is 0-for-21 over the last four games.

 

It’s a short locker room tonight. The Penguins were out quickly. Jake Guentzel didn’t have much to offer but a relieved, “that’s hockey,” after scoring twice. Those tallies were his first even-strength goals with a goalie in the net since Nov. 5.

Coach Mike Sullivan

Sullivan’s tone and demeanor were a stark departure from the frustrated, angry recent postgames. The weight the win lifted off the Pittsburgh Penguins was perhaps best seen and heard from Sullivan.

“Most importantly, I think we needed to feel good about what went on out there. We played hard. We played the game the right way,” Sullivan said. “I was most encouraged by the third period because I didn’t think we gave much, and I thought we were playing on our toes.”

Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.