Found March 05, 2012 on
Columbus Blue Jackets
Zybnek Michalek and Chris Kunitz scored three minutes apart in the first period, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 36 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1 on Monday night for their sixth straight victory.
The Penguins extended the NHL's longest current winning streak by holding off a late charge from the suddenly slumping Coyotes.
Ray Whitney scored 21st goal of the season, but Phoenix dropped its third straight after going unbeaten in regulation in February to surge to the top of the Pacific Division.
Mike Smith recovered after a shaky start to finish with 26 saves, but the Coyotes couldn't stop the Penguins from improving to 10-1 in their last 11 home games.
Phoenix outshot Pittsburgh 37-28 and tilted the ice on several occasions, but Fleury continued his brilliant play in winning his sixth consecutive start. He has stopped 163 of the last 168 shots he has faced. Fleury has 35 wins, one behind Nashville's Pekka Rinne for the league lead.
The Coyotes' surge in February, when they went 11-0-1, coincided with spectacular play from Smith, but his slipped in March. He was beaten by only two shots from one of the league's most potent offenses, but the Penguins are playing so well that every miscue by an opponent is magnified.
Michalek, who spent five seasons with Phoenix before coming in Pittsburgh in 2010, scored his first goal since Oct. 17 with 8:16 left in the first period. He took a drop pass from Jordan Staal and beat Smith to the stick side.
Kunitz scored his 19th goal 3:01 later with a nearly identical shot. Evgeni Malkin chipped the puck off the boards at center ice and onto Kunitz's stick. He swept in and fired a wrist shot that deflected off Smith's blocker and trickled in. Malkin's assist gave him 81 points and pushed him back atop the NHL scoring race.
Smith was perfect from there, but the damage was already done.
Phoenix peppered Fleury at times, but he did his acrobatic best to keep the Coyotes at bay. He streaked out of the net to stuff Martin Hanzal on a short-handed breakaway in the second, the flashiest save on a night when he was tested with regularity.
Fleury stayed patient, even when teammate Matt Cooke got tangled up with Smith in the second period after crashing into the net. Smith began smacking Cooke around, starting a dustup that took referees several minutes to calm.
While the crowd chanted his name, begging him to fight Smith, Fleury stayed in a crouch 150 feet away. With veteran backup Brent Johnson out because of an illness, and only rookie Brad Thiessen on the bench, Fleury understands he can't take any chances.
Fleury's only hiccup came early in the third on Whitney's 21st goal. Radim Vrbata slipped a pass from the corner to the front of the net and found Whitney, who easily slid a shot past the lunging goalie.
It was a rare misstep for Fleury, who held on in the third despite a pair of late power plays for the Coyotes.
The Penguins turned Phoenix away both times to improve to 12-2-3 against Western Conference opponents this season.
NOTES: Vrbata's assist was his 200th in the NHL. ... Pittsburgh D Kris Letang missed his second straight game due to concussion-like symptoms. The Penguins recalled Brian Strait from Wilkes-Barre to fill in. ... The Penguins also scratched defenseman Deryk Engelland and forwards Eric Tangradi and Dustin Jeffrey. ... Forward Gilbert Brule and defenseman Michael Stone were scratched by the Coyotes . ... Phoenix will plays at Columbus on Tuesday. The Blue Jackets beat the Coyotes 5-2 on Saturday.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Sidney Crosby is in a familiar position in his attempted return to game action, but he's not taking anything for granted this time around. The Penguins superstar was cleared for physical contact on Tuesday, but he was also quick to note that there still isn't a clear timetable for his return from lingering concussion issues. "I was cleared to do contact," Crosby...
Everyone knows that Coyotes have trouble dealing with flightless birds. So why the hell would Dave Tipett start goalie Mike Smith, who has the worst coyote of them all – Wile E. – painted on his mask, against the Penguins?
The Pens may have been a little slower than the Road Runner for most of last night but that didn’t matter because Marc-Andre Fleury blew up the Phoenix...
Looks like Sid has been cleared for contact and could be playing soon.
From the Penguins website, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has been cleared for full contact, but there is not timetable for a possible return to the lineup.
“I was cleared to do contact,” Crosby said. “We’ll see how that goes. There is no real timetable, but it’s a good step. Hopefully, I can keep...
Crosby cleared for contact Ryan Wilson (aka Gunner Staal) First things first, I would like to thank John for the opportunity to write a couple of the gameday blogs/recaps while he is taking in Pirates spring training in Bradenton, FL with his father. It has been really enjoyable. **************************** Sidney Crosby addressed the media today and announced that he has been cleare...
Crosby has full-participation practice with Penguins
As if the Pittsburgh Penguins weren't the hottest team in the League already, the surging Pens were blessed with even more good news: Sidney Crosby has been cleared for contact.
We assume the news comes as a result of Sid the Kid being bored of just doing this in practice for three months:
Although there's still...
Reader Hansen B. captured the Michalek chant in the arena.
Phoenix isn't anything to laugh at, minus Shane Doan and Michal Rozsival's career. The Pens have kicked off a four-game home stand with a win, and they are riding a 6-game winning streak.
And again they did it mostly because of Marc-Andre Fleury. We've seen the coming of age of MAF. It...
Sidney Crosby is nearing his much-anticipated return to the lineup, though the face of the Pittsburgh Penguins isn't about to rush anything.
Given how well Pittsburgh has been playing without him, Crosby can take all the time he needs.
The Penguins seek their seventh consecutive victory Wednesday night when they host the fading Toronto Maple Leafs, who could be without forward...
Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (39-21-5) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (30-29-7) Where: Consol Energy Center When: 7:30 PM EST Channels: TSN, NBCSN, RDSI I constantly spell Toronto wrong. Maybe it’s the placement of the Os, but literally every time I type it I get a red squiggly. Marc-Andre Fleury has his fourth 35 win season in a [...]
What was Shane Doan doing?
Recap in the am.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots, Steve Sullivan had a goal and an assist and the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-1 on Saturday night.
Evgeni Malkin, Arron Asham, Richard Park and Deryk Engelland also scored to help the Penguins stretch their winning streak to a season-high five games.
Matt Hunwick scored, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 22 saves for...
The Morning After:Yesterday’s results:Penguins 2, Coyotes 1Jets 3, Sabres 1Ducks 4, Oilers 2RLD 3 stars of the night:1. Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT (36 saves)2. Bryan Little, WPG (3 assists)3. Jonas Hiller, ANA (34 saves)---Tonight’s slate:Bruins @ Maple Leafs, 7:00 ETRangers @ Devils, 7:00Red Wings @ Flyers, 7:00Hurricanes @ Capitals, 7:00Coyotes @ Blue Jackets, 7:00Senators @ Lightning...