The Penguins practiced at Consol Energy Center Monday where left winger David Perron skated on a line with center Evgeni Malkin and right winger Patric Hornqvist.
The Penguins had made that change late in Saturday’s 2-1 road loss to the Coyotes. Perron replaced left winger Sergei Plotnikov who was moved to the third line with center Nick Bonino and right winger Beau Bennett.
“I don't even want to talk about lines,” Perron said. “I just want to play hockey. If we're going to do that all year [discuss lines], it's not going to be a fun year. Let's just get to play, have fun and play our game. We did some good things in Dallas [Thursday]. We did some good things in the third in [Arizona]. We can have better details than we did in [Arizona]. Lines don't matter. We just got to play our way.”
Hornqvist also dismissed the significance of the switch.
“It doesn't change that much. I think Perron is a little more skilled but Sergei did a great job. We didn't really click the first few games but it doesn't matter who is there. We've just got to get our working boots on and get going here. We can't play like we did in [Arizona]. It doesn't matter who you play with. We all have to play the same way here.“
The change was made with Plotnikov in mind as well.
“When I moved him up a little bit in the Dallas game, I liked it and decided to go back with that partway through the Arizona game,” said head coach Mike Johnston. “The other thing I did like though is I thought Sergei played more comfortable, more relaxed when he was playing with Bonino and Bennett. I really liked his game in the third period. He had a very good third period.”
The Penguins complete lines and defensive pairings in practice today were:
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Phil Kessel
David Perron - Evgeni Malkin - Patric Hornqvist
Sergei Plotnikov - Nick Bonino - Beau Bennett
Kevin Porter - Matt Cullen - Daniel Sprong
Ian Cole - Kris Letang
Olli Maatta - Ben Lovejoy
Brian Dumoulin - Rob Scuderi
Adam Clendening - Tim Erixon
Arizona defeated the Penguins, 2-1, at Gila River Arena Saturday night. A quick look at the game:
*** Arizona left winger Jordan Martinook capped an extended scramble around the Penguins’ crease by digging the puck out from under goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, then backhanding a shot past defenseman Ben Lovejoy and into the net at 7:29 of the second period for the game-winner. The goal was Martinook’s first in the NHL.
*** The Penguins have lost their first two games for the first time since 2010-11 and their first two away games for the first time since 2005-06, when they dropped their first five on the road.
*** The Penguins’ power play failed to generate anything except frustration for the second game in a row, going 0-for-4. It is 0-for-7 on the season.
*** Penguins center Sidney Crosby does not have a shot in two games, just the fourth time in his career that has happened. “It’s not good,” he said. “It’s hard to score when you’re not getting a shot on net. It’s definitely an area I have to get better in.”
*** Right winger Phil Kessel scored his first goal as a Penguin – and his team’s only goal of the season – at 5:19 of the second, as he stripped the puck from Arizona’s Shane Doan in the neutral zone, then carried it into the Coyotes’ end and whipped a wrist shot past goalie Mike Smith from the top of the right circle.
*** Arizona dominated the early portion of the game, something coach Mike Johnston said he warned his team was possible. “You have to come out of the gate better than we did,” he said.
*** Kessel’s goal came 85 minutes and 17 seconds into the season. The franchise record for the longest goal-less streak at the start of a season is 90 minutes, 13 seconds, set in the 2003-04 season.
*** Johnston also was unhappy about how his team fared in one-on-one confrontations. “We lost too many loose puck battles,” he said. “The competitive work ethic, they edged us in that category, probably up until late in the second period. After that, we started to push.”
*** The Coyotes have three former Penguins – Steve Downie, Zbynek Michalek and Joe Vitale – on their roster, but only Downie was in the lineup Saturday night. He had several run-ins with Penguins right winger Patric Hornqvist and picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct minor for needlessly spraying snow on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury during the second period.
Goaltender Matt Murray made 24 saves for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 4-1 road loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Saturday.
Defenseman Will O’Neill scored Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s lone goal.
The Penguins’ next game is at home against the rival Lehigh Valley Phantoms Oct. 17.
A look ahead to the Penguins’ game against Arizona at Gila River Arena tonight at 10:08:
*** The Penguins, coming off a 3-0 loss in Dallas Thursday, will be trying to avoid opening a season with back-to-back losses for the first time since 2010-11.
*** Coach Mike Johnston apparently plans one lineup change, with Kevin Porter replacing Bobby Farnham on the fourth line and the penalty-killing unit. “Porter adds some experience on the penalty-kill and he can center or the wing,” Johnston said after the game-day skate. “He’s a versatile player and we felt that was the best fit for tonight’s game.”
*** Sidney Crosby played a part in five of the six goals the Penguins got against Arizona in 2014-15, scoring two and setting up three.
*** The Coyotes opened their season with a 4-1 victory at Los Angeles Friday. They did not have a game-day skate Saturday.
*** Arizona failed to score on three power plays against the Kings, but killed all four of Los Angeles’ tries with the man-advantage.
*** Coyotes are 12-5-1 in home openers since franchise relocated from Winnipeg in 1996.
*** The Penguins have fared well against both Arizona goalies, winning four of their past five decisions against Mike Smith and three of four career decisions against Anders Lindback.
*** Arizona is 13-6-3 since the start of last season when defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson scores a goal.
*** Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta will be appearing in his 100th career game/
*** Coyotes right winger Shane Doan needs two points for 900 in his NHL career.
*** Arizona’s roster includes three former Penguins: Center Joe Vitale, winger Steve Downie and defenseman Zbynek Michalek.
Left winger Scott Wilson scored two goals, including one in overtime, to give the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1-0-0-0) a 2-1 season opening road win against the Providence Bruins Friday.
Goaltender Matt Murray made 40 saves in the victory.
THe Penguins’ next game is Saturday on the road against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.