The Arizona Coyotes are back from a five-game road trip, and they could not be prouder of the results. They finished 4-1-0, with their one loss coming 3-2 against the Boston Bruins. In addition, the road trip saw them complete sweeps of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, and Montréal Canadiens. All-in-all, a very successful road trip that does more to show what this team will hopefully be in the future than it influenced the rest of this season.
Arizona has looked like a completely different team in March, provided you are just looking at the score sheet. The Coyotes are a team that has historically struggled to score, yet they have managed to hit the five-goal mark in five of their games this month.
Unfortunately, just because a lopsided score doesn’t necessarily mean that the Coyotes were in control of the game. The Coyotes aren’t a great team, and they often are outworked and outplayed. Still, they have been especially good at capitalizing on their opportunities and scoring timely goals.
Their last game, a 6-3 win over the Montréal Canadiens, was extremely close, with the Canadiens controlling the game’s pace for the final two periods.
Or look no farther than the Coyotes’ 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. Lawson Crouse’s hat trick helped the Desert Dogs succeed, but the Senators also limited the Coyotes to just 15 shots over three periods while putting 43 shots on Scott Wedgewood.
If the Coyotes’ plan is to get outshot and yet win, that probably isn’t going to work as well against tonight’s opponents, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Pittsburgh comes into this afternoon’s game second in the Metropolitan Division behind only the Carolina Hurricanes. In 62 games, they have a 37-16-9 record, and they are 6-3-1 in their last ten games.
The Penguins haven’t had the most impressive March, but they have faced tough competition. They have wins over the Carolina Hurricanes, Vegas Golden Knights, and Tampa Bay Lightning, and they most recently beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in the shootout. However, their three losses were also fairly respectable, an overtime loss to the Hurricanes and regulation losses to the Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators.
Pittsburgh is a good team, but they are getting outstanding goaltending this season. Tristan Jarry has played a career-high 48 games with the Penguins this season and has a 2.31 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. Under Jarry and backup Casey DeSmith and the Penguins’ defense, the Penguins have allowed the fifth-fewest goals in the NHL and have the third-best penalty kill.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Clayton Keller - Keller had a goal and an assist in the Coyotes’ last game and comes into tonight’s game riding a seven-game point streak. Keller is 5-9-14 in March and has yet to be held pointless in the year’s third month.
Pittsburgh: Sidney Crosby - Before being held off the score sheet in St. Louis, Sidney Crosby had a ten-game point streak. He is on pace for another point-per-game season with 20 goals and 39 assists in 50 games.
Arizona: J. J. Moser (upper body), Jakob Chychrun (lower body), Antoine Roussel (lower body), Liam O’Brien (upper body), Andrew Ladd (lower body), Johan Larsson (hernia), Jay Beagle (lower body), Dmitrij Jaškin (lower body), Conor Timmins (knee)
Pittsburgh: Zach Aston-Reese (illness), Brock McGinn (upper body), Jason Zucker (abdominal)
Today’s game is an early one with a 2:00 pm puck drop. It will air on Bally Sports Arizona and on 620 AM.