After a snoozer for 40 minutes, the Pittsburgh Penguins (27-10-5) boat raced the Arizona Coyotes (10-27-4) out of the arena. The Penguins scored four third period goals and overcame a 3-2 third period deficit for a 6-3 win at PPG Paints Arena.
It was the Penguins’ sixth straight win and 17th in 19 games.
Per recent Penguins modus operandi, their energy arrived in the third period, and the specter of losing jolted them awake. Arizona took a third period lead when Nick Schmaltz (4) intercepted Dominik Simon’s pass at center ice, bolted around defenseman Mike Matheson, and swept across the crease at full speed for an easy tuck-in goal.
It was Schmaltz’s second goal of the game and served as the Penguins alarm bell.
Two minutes after Arizona took the lead, Penguins winger Brock McGinn (10) slipped between two defensemen for a clean backhand goal to tie the game.
Three minutes after McGinn tied the game, Sidney Crosby tapped his third point of the game. Bryan Rust stole the puck at the defensive blue to create a three-on-two. Rust fed Crosby (11), cutting to the net for the Penguins first lead.
The Penguins’ third goal in under seven minutes was Letang’s second goal and Evan Rodrigues’s second primary assist. Letang (5) another slot shot past Vejmelka.
For good measure, the Penguins scored again later in the third on another dandy. Brian Boyle (5) did his best Peter Forsberg impersonation in front of the net when he pulled the puck through his skates, his stick between his legs, and chipped top shelf over Vejmelka.
The Pittsburgh Penguins led 6-3. Game. Set. Match.
After a ho-hum first period that no one will remember, the wheels began turning in the second. The teams traded two goals, but the Penguins allowed the first goal uncharacteristically. Early in the second, Penguins defenseman, Marcus Pettersson misplayed a puck at the defensive blue line. Things broke down from there, and Nick Schmaltz was uncovered near. Schmaltz (3) neatly snapped the shot short-side on Penguins All-Star goalie Tristan Jarry.
Arizona scored a 5v3 power-play goal later in the second period. After dual penalties to Jake Guentzel (slashing) and Sidney Crosby (holding the stick), Arizona took the lead when Clayton Keller (16) lasered a perfect wrist shot from the right-wing circle.
The Penguins answered each goal with a pair of power-play goals against Arizona, which had the second-worst penalty killing in the league (72.8%). Midway through the period, Crosby did one of those extraordinary things that Crosby does, and the hockey world takes for granted. From near the crease, Crosby slipped a no-look, through the legs, backhand pass to Bryan Rust in the left-wing circle.
Rust (10) quickly beat Arizona goalie Karel Vejmelka.
Later in the period, the Penguins tied the game with their second power-play tally. After quick puck movement around the perimeter, defenseman Kris Letang stepped forward to the high slot. Letang’s blast (4) hit Vejmelka but didn’t stop.
The first period was a hot dog without mustard or ketchup. The Penguins outshot Arizona 10-4, but neither team established intense offensive pressure. The Penguins dominated the time of possession but generally stayed outside the dots.
The Penguins had four chances in the first period, according to NaturalStatTrick.com, but those were primarily rush chances without a follow-up. Sidney Crosby led all players with three shots.
Overall, former Penguins winger and two-time Stanley Cup champion Phil Kessel didn’t have a shot on goal, and Arizona had only 16 shots total.
Tristan Jarry had a light workload. He stopped 13 of 16.