Coyotes Top Penguins 2-1; Smitty Stonewalls Pittsburgh
It is well known throughout the hockey world that no one likes the Penguins. Crosby, Malkin, and now that cherub faced sniper Phil Kessel cavort to create a dynamic of hate that’s nearly unparalleled for a non-original six club. Good thing we beat ’em.
With a neat little introduction to the team, the pack set to work on smashin’ some Penguins. Though the first period was scoreless, it was certainly not uneventful. Patric Hornqvist shoved Brad Richardson into Mike Smith in a borderline late hit, leaving Smith down in his own neat for a few scary moments. Much like last game, Smith shook it off (and boy did he ever). The shot to Smith really ignited the sellout crowd and 5 minutes exactly into the second, Tobias Rieder netted a beautiful behind the net pass from Anthony Duclair to put the Coyotes up 1-0 (Duclair was actually offsides on the play). The Penguins got on the board 17 seconds later after the captain Shane Doan was pick-pocketed by Phil Kessel, who took the puck in 1-on-1 against Mike Smith and fired an absolute lazer into the back of the net.
Not to be outdone, rookie Jordan Martinook scored his first NHL goal with 7:29 left in the period after a mad scramble in front of the Penguins net. Sprinkle in some gritty penalty killing, some absolute beast mode play from Smitty , and the Coyotes hold on to win 2-1.
- Patric Hornqvist is not known as a dirty player. The shot on Brad Richardson that injured Mike Smith was questionable, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. The continued attempts to pester Smith beyond the usual net front play, though? C’mon man. Oh, and there was this:
- Jordan Martinook keeps humming along out there. It’s only been two games, but the kid has the effort end of this down pat. Loved seeing him score his first NHL goal.
- Anthony Duclair has certainly not looked as good as his rookie counterpart Max Domi, but he’s still putting up some assists. That svelte little pass to Martinook was the exact kind of thing he’s here for. Duuuuuke!
- Ditto for Tobias Rieder. That’s a goal per game pace for Tobi, and 3 points in 2. He can’t keep that up, but still…feels good man.
- Nick Grossmann was cleaning up all kinds of messes, from in the crease to the majority of our zone. Excellent addition thus far.
- On the other hand, I held my breath every time Stefan Elliot was on the ice. Avs fans weren’t kidding about his defensive inefficiency and those two penalties…get well soon Zbynek Michalek.
- Steve Downie gonna Steve Downie, for better or worse.
- Max Domi had another strong night. Felt like he was gonna bust through for goal #2 at any point but it never materialized.
- Shoutout to every. single. Coyotes. center on dominating in the face-off dot.
- Kudos to the Coyotes for going on the attack in this game, out-shooting the Penguins 39-28 after getting hammered the night before in LA. Possession wins hockey games.
85th39th birthday Shane Doan!
- The wild man Mike Smith.
Injuredpissed off early by the Penguins, it felt like he rode his hatred for Hornqvist and the Pens all the way to brick wall status as the game went on. This save absolutely lit the crowd on fire. It’s only been two games yadda yadda yadda yadda, but damn if he hasn’t looked great coming off of last season’s disappointment.
Two games in what do we know? The Coyotes are going 82-0 in route to their first Stanley Cup victory. Mike Smith will set the NHL record for regular season save percentage and win the Vezina. Tobias Rieder will contest Ovi and the rest for the Rocket Richard. Okay, maybe not. But 2-0 against two real decent NHL teams? How sweet it is.
We’ve got the Ducks in Anaheim on Wednesday night. Why’s the break gotta be so long? Guess even Smitty needs a night off. Onward and upward!