Those with heart palpitations would have done well to steer clear of tonight’s game between the Arizona Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins. But despite some late period excitement, the Coyotes defeated the reigning Stanley Cup champions in overtime thanks to Connor Murphy’s first goal of the season.
Ever the considerate types, the Coyotes and Penguins made sure that any fans delayed by road closures on the I-10 didn’t miss anything, as neither team scored in the opening frame. Kris Letang and Martin Hanzal traded puck over the glass penalties in the first.
1-0 Pittsburgh - Arizona’s rookies have been productive all season, so why not let some other NHL first-years have in on the fun? Josh Archibald recorded his first career NHL goal off of an Eric Fehr spin-o-rama attempt in front that Smith stopped but could not corral. Assists to Fehr and Tom Kuhnhackl on the goal at 5:41.
- 1-1 Tie - Less than one minute later, the Coyotes tied the game as Tobias Rieder picked the pocket of Justin Schultz in the neutral zone. With only one defenseman between the Coyotes and the net, Rieder kept the puck himself and rifled a shot over Marc-Andre Fleury from the top of the near-side faceoff circle to even the score. No assists on the goal at 6:40.
2-1 Arizona - Brian Dumoulin took a mid-period interference penalty against Jamie McGinn, and the Coyotes took advantage. Radim Vrbata forced the Pittsburgh defender down to one knee at the top of the faceoff circle, which gave Vrbata enough room to get the puck on net. Though Fleury stopped the initial shot, Martin Hanzal was unmarked to Fleury’s stick side, and his impressive reach permitted him to tap the rebound past Fleury’s glove side to give Arizona the lead. Assists to Vrbata and Oliver-Ekman Larsson on the power play goal at 9:00.
3-1 Arizona - The Coyotes grabbed a two goal lead on Martin Hanzal’s second of the night, as the big Czech center once again used his reach to get to a loose puck in the crease. Fleury could not corral Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s point shot, and Hanzal was able to take advantage with Olli Maatta draped all over him. Assists to Ekman-Larsson and Max Domi on the goal at 3:36.
3-2 Arizona - Pittsburgh’s youngster made his presence known yet again as Mike Smith committed another calamitous turnover in his own net. Smith was too nonchalant in waiting for the puck to get out of the restricted area, which enabled Archibald to take the puck away from Smith and tap the puck into a gaping net. No assists on the shorthanded goal at 14:38.
3-3 Tie - In the dying seconds of the third period, Phil Kessel was able to send the game to overtime, as a Kris Letang point shot bounced out to Kessel, who was settled in just to the stick-side of Smith. Kessel immediately potted home the rebound before Smith could correct himself. Assists to Jake Guentzel and Letang on the goal at 19:45.
4-3 Arizona - Better late than never right? Connor Murphy finally scored his first goal of the season to give the Coyotes the win in overtime. Murphy skated into the offensive zone, and took a shot when Brian Dumoulin only casually challenged him at the top of the near-side faceoff circle. The shot appeared to take Marc-Andre Fleury by surprise, as he whiffed on the save despite the puck appearing to either barely glance off of Dumoulin’s stick or completely miss it at all. Assist to Alexander Burmistrov on the overtime goal at 4:38.
1. Can the Coyotes contain Sidney Crosby? - Crosby finished tonight with zero points. Can’t ask for much more than that.
2. Will the Coyotes look for payback from the meeting in December? - Arizona benefited from some excellent play in front of the net by Martin Hanzal. Overall, they showed a lot of fight in this game despite the late third period heartbreak.
3. Can the Coyotes keep up with the Penguins four rolling lines? - It was Pittsburgh’s fourth line that gave Arizona problems tonight, as Josh Archibald scored two of Pittsburgh’s three goals. Despite this, Arizona was able to contain the damage and put themselves in position to take the win in overtime.
Players of the Game
Pittsburgh - Josh Archibald - Archibald has played just two NHL games over two NHL seasons. Tonight he recorded his first two goals. Great effort from the 174th overall selection in 2011.
Arizona - Martin Hanzal - After missing Thursday night’s game with an illness, Hanzal had a pair of goals against Pittsburgh to prove his mettle. Arizona is simply a better team with him on the ice.
- For more on the Pittsburgh Penguins, check out Pensburgh
- Jakob Chychrun was ruled out of tonight’s game after the morning skate as Dave Tippett opted to rest his rookie defenseman in favor of Kevin Connauton. Connauton played 13:10, registering five hits and a -7 5v5 shot attempt differential.
- Sidney Crosby was held pointless in consecutive games for the first time this season.
- Despite reports that he would be cleared to play ahead of tonight’s game, Evgeni Malkin was not activated off of injured reserve and did not play.
- With this win, the Arizona Coyotes defeated both of last season’s Stanley Cup Finalists in a one week span.
- Since returning to action on February 2nd, Max Domi has a goal and two assists in four games.
- Murphy’s goal was his first in 50 games. His last goal was on April 5th, 2016 against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Arizona next heads to Alberta for a pair of games against its Pacific Division rivals. The first game is against the Calgary Flames on Monday night. Puck drop is at 7 PM Arizona time.