-It's been a long time since the Penguins last played in Arizona. How long? These were their lines and defensive pairings in a 4-3 road shootout win Nov. 6, 2010:
-First, Arron Asham and Matt Cooke were Malkin's wingers? No wonder he struggled to score at his normal rate that season before suffering a serious knee injury.
-People want to flip out about the Penguins' bottom six forwards this season but it wasn't that long ago that Asham and Cooke were second liners.
-Only four of those forwards will play for the Penguins tonight. Asham (AHL) and Comrie (retired) aren't even in the NHL these days.
-The defense is remarkably similar if you discount Engelland being used as a forward these days.
-The Coyotes are coming off a rotten 3-2 loss to the lowly Sabres Thursday. Shane Doan was pretty fired up after that game. We would expect a pretty strong and focused effort by the Coyotes tonight.
-The Penguins will face Zbynek Michalek for the first time since he was traded back to the Coyotes at the 2012 draft. Michalek came here as a free agent with the promise of being a replacement for Rob Scuderi. In 2010-11, Michalek was teamed up with Paul Martin and they were a lights-out shutdown combo. They regularly got assignments against the oppositions top forwards. As that season wore on the the Penguins were ravaged by injuries to Sidney Crosby and Malkin, they Penguins had to grind out more low-scoring games. Michalek and Martin were a big part of that.
In 2009-10, the Penguins allowed an average of 2.87 goals per game. In 2010-11, that number dropped to 2.39, nearly half a goal.
During 2011-12, Michalek and Martin were a mess. It started with a 2-1 road loss against the Jets Oct. 17 where Michalek and Martin fell over themselves:
Injuries played a role, but for whatever reason, they just couldn't get it together that season. Eventually, they were split as a pair. Michalek was moved primarily because his contract was easier to move with his limited movement clause. The Coyotes wanted him back. By all accounts, he's a much better fit with the Coyotes and head coach Dave Tippett. Martin has rebounded quite a bit as well in the two seasons since.
-If nothing else, Michalek had one of the cooler goal celebration videos for the Penguins:
-If you're still riding high over the Penguins' 4-1 trouncing of the Kings Thursday, pump your brakes. The Flyers shutout the Kings in Los Angeles today, 2-0. The Kings are not in a good place right now.
-It'll be interesting to see how Dan Bylsma treats his lineup tonight on the last portion of the mom's trip. Will Andrew Ebbett and Chuck Kobasew get in the lineup with their mothers in attendance?
-We're not crazy about the idea of allowing something like that to dictate how a lineup is filled out but it's not the worst thing in the world. It's a game in February against a non-conference foe and the Penguins have a huge lead in the division.
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Tanner Glass, Chris Kunitz, Robert Bortuzzo, Rob Scuderi and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Deryk Engelland, Chuck Kobasew and Kris Letang.
-The Coyotes starters are Mikkel Boedker, Lauri Korpikoski, Antoine Vermette, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Zbynek Michalek and Mike Smith.
-Their scratches are Tim Kennedy, David Rundblad and Michael Stone.
18:27: Off a feed by Mike Ribeiro, David Moss chops a slapper form the high slot. Fleury smothers it.
17:35: A wrister by Keith Yandle from the left point is blocked by Jayson Megna.
16:32: Crosby tries to skate through a few defenders but a poke check by Ekman-Larsson at the Phoenix blue line knocks the puck off his stick.
15:47: Yandle tries to skate the puck into the Penguins' zone but he's stood up on a heck between Robert Bortuzzo and Jussi Jokinen.
15:37: Jokinen backhands a puck from the Phoenix blue line on net. Smith steers it away. Jokinen hustles and chops the rebound on net from the right of the cage. Smith steers it away.
15:04: Moss has a few chances in tight but can't beat Fleury.
13:46: Brian Gibbons (5-foot-8, 170 pounds) slams Michalek (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) to the ice behind the Phoenix net. What a hit.
13:29: Crosby lifts a backhander from the right circle over the cage.
13:00: Malkin spins off the left wing wall and deals a pass to Jokinen racing into the offensive zone. Jokinen rips a heavy shot which Smith gets a piece of.
12:55: Jokinen jumps on a loose puck in the slot and whacks it wide.
12:44: Antoine Vermette rips a wrister from the left wing. Fleury eats it up.
11:04: David Schlemko chucks a wrister from the left point on net. Fleury eats it up.
10:30: Off a terrible neutral zone turnover by Crosby, Ekman-Larsson whack a one-timer from center point. Bortuzzo blocks it and is staggered a bit.
10:16: Bortuzzo chucks a loose puck on net form the center point. It hits a body or two and deflects to Gibbons to the right of the net. Gibbons tries to sweep it into the cage but Smith sprawls to his left comes up with a tremendous glove save.
9:23: The Coyotes will have the first power play as Niskanen is called for holding Martin Hanzal in the Penguins' left circle. Brooks Orpik, Martin, Craig Agams and Brandon Sutter take the ice.
8:31: Ekman-Larsson snipes a wrister from the right half wall. Fleury eats it up despite a screen by the massive Hanzal (6-foot-6, 230 pounds).
7:29: Ribeiro deals a pass from the right circle to Derek Morris at the left point. His slapper is kicked out by Fleury.
7:17: Who needs a power play? As the Niskanen minor expires. Ribeiro conrols the puck on the lef thwla fall, survesy the offensive zone and lifts a wrister on net. It sails by Fleury's glove hand and hits twine. Fleury looked lost on that as Vermette had a great screen in front. Schlemko and Vermette each get assists. Coyotes, 1-0.
7:04: Off a bit of a defensive breakdown by the Penguins, Boedker gets a chance in the slot. His wrister is knocked down by Fleury who smothers the rebound.
6:52: Neal rips a wrister from the right circle over the cage.
6:41: A slapper by Niskanen from center point is wide.
5:57: A one-timer by Kunitz in the left circle is blocked by Michalek. Fire Ray Shero.
3:58: Moss pounds a slapper from the right wing. Fleury kicks it way.
3:51: In transition, Neal snaps off a tricky wrister from the right wing wide to the far side.
3:48: Maatta settles the puck at the right point and whips a wrister at the cage which Morris deflects out of play.
3:02: Off a blocked shot by Jokinen in the defensive zone, Neal whips a wrister from the right wing wide to the far side.
0:38: Battling for a puck near the Penguins' end boards, Niskanen drops Vermette to the ice with a good shoulder check.
0:08: Hanzal whips wrister from the left wing on net. Fleury fights it off.
0:00: End of period. Coyotes 1, Penguins 1.
-That was a fairly brisk first period. There was a fair amount of flow up and down the ice. Each team had a few quality chances. The Coyotes buried on of theirs.
-The Penguins got some chances from their top two lines. Neal, especially, put a lot of tricky shots at the cage.
-The Coyotes have been a little more meat and potatoes with their chances. They've been trying to create offense with bodies in front of Fleury.
-Moss has been pretty involved with the Coyotes offense.
-The Coyotes have a 12-6 lead in shots on net.
-The Coyotes have a 24-21 lead in attempted shots.
-Jokinen and Moss each lead the game with four shots on net.
-Yandle leads the game with 8:43 of ice time.
-Orpik leads the Penguins with 8:32 of ice time.
-The Penguins have a 9-6 lead in faceoffs (60 percent).
-Crosby is 3 for 4 (75 percent).
-Vermette is 3 for 6 (50 percent).
-No one has more than one blocked shot.
19:40: Off a turnover by the Penguins at their blue line, Michalek cranks a one-timer from the right point which rings off the cross bar.
18:08: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Niskanen whacks a one-timer from the left point. Smith steers it away.
15:56: The Coyotes are controlling the puck in the Penguins' zone. Connor Murphy whacks a shot from the right point. Fleury steers it away.
13:45: Off a feed by Gibbons, Crosby lifts a backhander from the right circle. Smith smothers it.
13:09: Orpik chucks a wrister fro the right point. Smith eats it up.
12:59: Neal rips a wrister from the right circle to the far side.
12:43: Doan chops a slapper from above the left circle. Fleury fights it off. Play is blown dead as Hanzal is called for holding the stick of Scuderi in front of Fleury. Niskanen, Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz and Neal take the ice.
12:17: A wrister by Neal from the left wing is blocked by Michalek. Fire Ray Shero.
11:53: Off a feed by Malkin, Crosby hammers a one-timer from above the right circle. Michalek blocks it. Fire Ray Shero.
11:37: Malkin whacks a slapper from the right circle which Smith swats away.
10:59: Martin lifts a pedestrian wrister from the left circle. Smith fights it off. Sutter chobs the rebound wide of the cage.
10:29: off a feed by Gibbons, Jokinen puesh a backhander on net from the right of the cage. Smith kicks it out.
9:59: Radim Vrbata lifts a low wrister on net from the right wing. Fleury fights it off.
9:10: Zbynek Michalek's revenge. Taking a pass at the right point, Michalek cranks a slapper from the right point. It sails through traffic and beat Fleury low on the far side. Fleury looked lost again on that due to traffic. It's Michalek's first goal of the season. Fire Ray Shero. Ekman-Larsson and Ribeiro get assists. Coyotes 2-0.
8:26: Adams rips a wrister from the right circle. It hits off the leg of Schlemko and deflects on net. Smith hangs on for a save.
7:57: Off a feed by Jokinen, Scuderi whacks a slapper from the left point. Smith steers it away.
6:24: A wild slapper from Boedker off the right wing is wide to he the far side.
6:17: Crosby snaps off a cross-ice pass attempt from above the right circle to Gibbons sneaking in on the left wing. Michalek reads it all the way and deflects it out of play.
6:02: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Schlemko whips a wrister wide of the cage.
5:16: Niskanen snaps off a tricky wrister from the left wing. Smith is handcuffed a bit but still holds out the puck.
4:09: The second line breaks though. Jokinen controls a puck in the left wing corner and fends off Hanzal. He settles the puck and deals a pass to Neal in the slot. Neal fends off Yandle and deals a pass to the right of the cage. Malkin takes the pass, hesitates for a moment and snaps off a wrister though the five hole of Smith who tried to stack the pads. Neal and Jokinen get assists. Coyotes 2-1.
3:16: Battling for a puck behind the Phoenix net, Maatta cross checks Ekman-Larsson into the boards. Play is halted. Ekman-Larsson appears to be fine. Adams, Sutter, Orpik and Martin take the ice.
2:52: Vrbata flings a wrister from above the left circle on net. FLeury snags it despite a screen by Hanzal.
2:44: A wrister by Vrbata from the left circle hits a stick.
2:35: A slapper by Yandle off the left wing is blocked.
1:10: As Maatta's minor is killed, Boedkker chops a shot on net from the left point. Fleury smothers.
0:45: Megna gets a shift with Crosby and Kunitz.
0:00: End of period. Coyotes 2, Penguins 1.
-Even though each team got a goal, things slowed down a bit that period in terms of offensive chances.
-Even beyond his surprising goal, Michalek has had a strong game in his zone. He's gotten quite a few shifts against Crosby's line and has limited the offensive chances that line has seen.
-How long has it been since Michalek scored?
-The Penguins' bottom six forward have been a non-factor in terms of creating offense.
-The Coyotes have a 22-18 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have a 44-43 edge in attempted shots.
-Jokinen leads the game with five shots.
-Moss leads the Coyotes with four shots.
-Yandle leads the game with 16:44 of ice time.
-Martin leads the Penguins with 16:09.
-The Coyotes have an 18-17 edge in faceoffs (51 percent).
-Crosby is 8 for 13 (62 percent).
-Jeff Halpern is 3 for 5 (60 percent).
-Michalek and Morris each lead the game with four blocked shots.
-Scuderi, Bortuzzo, Orpik and Gibbons each lead the game with two blocked shots.
19:32: A one-timer by Michalek from the right point is blocked.
18:28: Vrbata has a chance in tight but flips the puck over the cage.
18:03: Vrbata rips a wrister from the left circle which Fleury fends off.
17:53: A wrister by Doan in the slot is blocked by Orpik.
17:18: Yandle launches a slapper from the left point. Fleury fights it off. The Coyote shave dominated the early portion of this period.
16:53: Michalek flips a wrister from the right point which hits a leg in front.
15:47: Off a neutral zone turnover, the Coyotes strike. Gibbons has as a pass in the neutral zone stolen as the Penguins make a poor line change. Martin attempts a pinch to poke the puck away but misses. That creates a two-on-one for Vrbata with Doan against Niskanen, Vrbata elects to shoot and blows a wrister by the blocker of Fleury on the near side. Ugh. That was ugly. Hanzal gets the only assist. Coyotes 3-1.
13:05: A wrister by Murphy from the right point is blocked by Megna.
12:01: Kunitz wheels in off the right wing and has a wrister from the slot blocked.
11:25: The Penguins get a chance to get back into the game as Boedker is called for hooking Neal in the neutral zone. Crosby, Neal, Kunitz, Malkin and Niskanen take the ice.
11:17: Niskanen swipes a slapper from the right point wide to the far side.
10:50: Malkin whacks a slapper from the right circle. It glances off the stick of Michalek then off the far post.
10:42: The rebound from Malkin's shot creates a rush up the left wing for Halpern. He lifts a wrister which Fleury fends off.
9:26: Off a feed by Maatta, Sutter has a chance in tight but can't sneak it behind Smith.
9:22: As the Boedker minor expires, Maatta directs a slapper on net from the high slot. Smith fights it off.
7:50: Battling for a puck in the Coyotes' left wing corner, Vermette shoves Neal from behind into the boards. Neal sells the hit hard and gets an interference minor. Vermette chirps Neal, presumably for embellishing the play. Neal also gets a diving minors. We'll have four on four for two minutes.
7:31: The Coyotes will get another power play as Niskanen is called for interference. Hanzal chipped and chased a puck up the left wing and his hit by Niskanen away from the puc. The Coyotes will get a four-on-three power play for 1:42. Malkin gets a unsportsmanlike conduct minor for protesting the call from the bench a bit too much. He was giving the officials a lot of grief. Sutter, Adams and Orpik take the ice.
7:14: Ribeiro lifts a wrister from the right circle over the cage.
7:03: Doan cranks a slapper from the left circle which is blocked by Sutter.
6:13: Yandle fires a one-timer from the right point. Fleury fights it off. Sutter clears the rebound.
5:50: As Vermette leaves the peanlty box, a one-timer by Vrbata from the left circle is blocked.
5:42: Riberio cranks a slapper form the right circle which Fleur punches a way from the penalgy bo
5:31: Niskanen leaves the penalty box. The Coyotes will have a five-on-four for 1:42.
3:49: As play returns to full strenght, a wrister by Hanzal from the left circle is deflected out of play.
3:21: Off a steal by Malkin, Crosby has a chance in the slot but a stick-on-puck by Vermette.
3:13: Play is halted when Malkin and Ekman-Larsson mix it up. Malkin gave Ekman-Larsson an uppercut. Play be four-on-four for two minutes.
2:20: According to Root Sports broadcaster Bob Errey, Olli Maatta headed down the runway to the dressing room for stitches.
1:10: Flueyr is pulled for an extra atacker.
1:03: Neal tries to tucks in a wrister from the right of the cage. Smith dives to his left to hold it out.
0:58: A slapper by Martin from the right point is eaten up by Smith. Kunitz crashes in and a scrum develops. The Penguins call a timeout to get organized.
0:21: A one-timer by Niskanen from the left point is blocked by a diving Hanzal.
0:00: End of game. Coyotes 3, Penguins 1.
-This was a game and an opponent where getting the first goal was huge. Getting the first lead is important in every game but with at team like the Coyotes, it's vital. When the Coyotes get a lead, they try to shut things down. They did that for the most part tonight.
-Matchups were key for this game. Sidney Crosby's line saw a ton of shifts against Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Zbynek Michalek while Evgeni Malkin's line saw a lot of Derek Morris and Keith Yandle. Each defensive pairing handled its assignments pretty well most of the night. Neither of the Penguins' top two lines was given a much space to work with.
-That's were the team's bottom six forwards failed to come though. Forget even worrying about goals from the bottom two lines, they had trouble getting shots on net. Craig Adams (1), Andrew Ebbett (0), Tanner Glass (0), Jayson Megna (0), Taylor Pyatt (1) and Brandon Sutter (2) combined for four shots on net.
-Malkin really let his team down with his unsportsmanlike conduct minor. Matt Niskanen took an interference minor with 7:31 remaining in play. The Penguins could have killed off Niskanen's minor and still had roughly five and a half minutes of time in regulation to mount a comeback. Instead, they had to kill off Malkin's minor as well. By the time that minor had expired, there was only 3:49 remaining.
-Malkin wears an "A" on his chest. He's a leader on this team. Leaders are expected to display composure. He offered little in that situation.
-The Penguins' second line actually generate a fair amount of scoring chances. They just couldn't finish. James Neal attempted plenty of shots but was off target. His normally trusty shot was all over the place tonight. He's gone eight games without a goal.
-Paul Martin had another rough outing. He was on the ice for all three of the Coyotes goals. His worst play was a pinch which led to Radim Vrbata's insurance goal. We're not sure how healthy he is coming off his leg injury.
-Marc-Andre Fleury could have stolen a goal on Vrbata's shot but we're not about to throw this loss at his feet. He had a body in front of him on the Coyotes' first two goals.
-The Coyotes were really focused in this game. They had a game plan and stuck with it. This was a perfect example of how this team wants to play under Dave Tippett. They aren't' exciting but they are effective. The had bodies in the neutral zone and really limited the Penguins' speed.
-Mike Riberio had another strong game against the Penguins. He now has 27 points in 22 career games against the Penguins.
-Michalek came back with a strong game against this former team. he scored the game-winning goal and had a big role in limited Crosby most of the night.
-Fire Ray Shero.
-It would be a stretch to say Mike Smith was tested a great deal but when he was, he was up to the challenge.
-The Coyotes led in shots on net, 30-24.
-The Coyotes led in attempted shots, 67-57.
-Jussi Jokinen led the game with five shots.
-Ribeiro, David Moss and Vrbata each led the Coyotes with four shots.
-Ekman-Larsson each led the game with 27:23 of ice time.
-Martin led the Penguins with 23:18.
-The Coyotes had a 28-24 lead in faceoffs (54 percent).
-Crosby was 12 for 22 (55 percent).
-Antoine Vermette was 10 for 19 (53 percent).
-Brooks Orpik led the game with five blocked shots.
-Morris and Michalek each led the Coyotes with four blocked shots.
-Fire Ray Shero.
-Riberio recorded his 200th career goal.
-Neal passed up Phil Bourque for 51st place on the franchise's career scoring list. Each player has 164 points but Neal (79) has more goals than Bourque (75).