Penguins allow comeback, pull out victory at Coyotes
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Penguins have struggled in close games recently, and giving up a two-goal lead to the team with the league's worst record was not a good sign.
One shot from Olli Maatta changed their fortunes.
Maatta scored from just inside the blue line with 14 seconds left, and the Penguins ended a three-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night.
“We just stayed with it,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, who became the fourth Penguins coach to win 100 games with the franchise. “It was a little discouraging when they tied it up, but I thought we controlled the play most of the night.”
The Penguins pressured Arizona early and took a 2-0 lead on second-period goals by Carter Rowney and Evgeni Malkin.
Arizona got a spark when Nick Cousins scored in the closing seconds of the second period, and Max Domi scored early in the third to tie it against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.
The teams traded good chances and appeared to be headed to overtime until Maatta beat Antti Raanta to the stick side on a shot from the left point. Raanta smacked his stick on the goal after missing the puck, and Sidney Crosby sealed the outcome with an empty-net goal.
“That's tough. I mean, it was 14 seconds,” said Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet, a former Penguins assistant whose team has lost six in a row and nine of 10. “It's been a season like that and it's going to build character. We'll weed this out and these losses are going to build character.”
The Penguins were sharp early — reversing a trend of recent slow starts — putting constant pressure on the Coyotes and outshooting them 26-11 through the first two periods.
Rowney scored in the second period on a nice feed from Bryan Rust after Domi was bumped off the puck in his own zone, creating a 2-on-1. Malkin scored on a rebound with just over minute left in the second, getting the tip of his stick on the puck to trickle it past Raanta.
“All the way through the game I thought we generated some good chances,” Crosby said.