Pittsburgh Penguins too strong for surging Arizona Coyotes 
Despite Arizona's hard work, Pittsburgh always had the answer. (Photo: NHL.com)

Pittsburgh Penguins too strong for surging Arizona Coyotes 

An experienced Pittsburgh Penguins' team denied a winning streak for the Arizona Coyotes in a night of great team effort, which fell short.

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Flávio Fernandes

Darcy Kuemper had the best game of his season and yet it was not enough to defeat Sidney Crosby and company

 

The win in overtime and the statistical numbers may suggest a closer game than it was but the Pittsburgh Penguins controlled most of the play from the second period on and Darcy Kuemper did a terrific job to keep his team in it until overtime.

Clayton Keller gave hope for the home fans of a two-point night when he scored his 10th goal of the season on a power play assisted by captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The assist was a milestone for OEL as he was credited his 100th NHL point in his career.

The second period was all Pittsburgh 

In a span of just 40 seconds, the Arizona Coyotes saw their lead taken out of their hands with goals from Juuso Riikola and Jake Guentzel. The visiting Penguins outshot the "Yotes" 13-4 in the period.

Even though being outmatched, the Coyotes showed incredible fighting spirit, while Kuemper made 32 saves in the game to keep their hopes alive. Richard Panik scored a goal that ended up being called back due to goaltender interference.

As Ekman-Larsson cruised by the right part of the crease his skate bumped Matt Murray's and knocked him to the ice. It was a marginal call since Murray seemed to be outside of the blue painted crease at the time.

The Coyotes' bad luck on reviewed plays continued and this would have been a key goal had it stood.

Their hard work would eventually pay off when their alternate captain made a play in the offensive zone. Derek Stepan scored on a rebound to tie the game from a Niklas Hjalmarsson shot forcing a 3-on-3 OT.

Panik highlighted the play by turning from hero to villain. He committed a penalty that made his team shorthanded in the crucial moments of the game and Sidney Crosby was able to set up Phil Kessel for the winning goal.

 

Tocchet's tidbits

"We scratched and clawed," Coyotes Head Coach Rick Tocchet said. "I liked our first (period), I liked our third. They've got star players over there, and we had a chance to win ... Whether it was a point or not, I liked our effort."

"It's a cool accomplishment," Keller said. "But, more importantly, I'm focused on our team, and we're playing good hockey right now ... That's a really tough team to beat over there. It's good to see us not take the night off after a big win against San Jose (on Wednesday)."

Next game for the Coyotes will be the start of a road trip in Eastern Canada as they matchup Sunday against the Toronto Maple Leafs

Did you feel that the Coyotes' effort was good enough to make them a playoff caliber team? Let us know in the comments section below.

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