If you were waiting for fast-paced action and excitement of a hockey game which featured Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, for 40 minutes you were more disappointed than a Star Wars purist after Episode 8. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Arizona Coyotes posted adequate shot totals, but low scoring chances, including the Penguins largely squandered five-on-three at the beginning of the second period. The Penguins finally chipped away at Arizona and Evgeni Malkin’s goal was enough as the Penguins shutout Arizona 2-0.
Each coach and each team made sure there was little space in the neutral zone and even less in the offensive zone. For Penguins fans tired of new goal song, “Jump Around,” the Penguins had the perfect cure through 40 minutes. The game was scoreless.
Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry, who stopped all 33 shots for his second straight shutout, is pushing for more playing time. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan admitted Jarry had altered the Penguins expected workload plans.
“Well, for sure. He’s played extremely well. We’re trying to make decisions with all of our positions, but we’re trying to make decisions to win games in the short run, also,” said head coach Mike Sullivan.
Tristan Jarry had a simpler sentiment after the game, which echoed Phil Kessel’s words after the game.
“I love Pittsburgh. I love playing here. It’s awesome,” Jarry said of his home success.
It wasn’t until several minutes into the third period when the Penguins mindset changed. It wasn’t as much a tactical change as it was a willingness to take an extra stride, and in that extra stride on the outside, the Penguins speedy wingers were able to get the edge on the Arizona defensemen.
With that edge, the game changed. And the Pittsburgh Penguins finally scored.