Canadiens 3, Penguins 2

By Dave Molinari 56 minutes ago

A quick look at the Penguins’ 3-2 loss to Montreal in their home opener at Consol Energy Center Tuesday night:

*** The loss was the Penguins’ third in a row, and means they have lost the first three games of the season for the fifth time in franchise history. It also happened in 1983, 1996, 2001 and 2005.

*** Penguins center Sidney Crosby, who did not have a shot in the previous two games, recorded four against the Canadiens. He was, however, unable to convert on a quality chance from inside the right circle with 2:17 left in regulation, when the Penguins were trying to overcome a one-goal deficit for the third time in the game.

*** The Penguins have not had a lead in any of their three games.

*** Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, on the Penguins’ winless streak: “We know we’re better than this. It seems like we’ve been getting better over the last three games, but still, we should have been ready to go from Game 1. It’s going to be tough to make the playoffs. Every year, the race is always close. We need to get some points and get on the board here. It’s disappointing. It’s still early, but we’ve got to get off to it.”

*** The Penguins, who have struggled to score goals all season, finally got their offense in synch during the second period, when Beau Bennett and Kris Letang scored in a span of four minutes, 38 seconds. “In the second period, we did some things right,” left winger Chris Kunitz said. “[But] you can’t do it for five or six shifts. You have to do it for the whole 60 minutes.”

*** Max Pacioretty scored Montreal’s first two goals, and the one he got at 5:46 of the opening period to break a 0-0 tie probably was a portent: The Canadiens now are 10-0-1 the past 11 times they’ve opened the scoring against the Penguins.

*** Tomas Fleischmann’s scored the game-winner at 5:20 of the third, when he beat Fleury from the inner edge of the left circle to cap a sequence that began with Canadiens center David Desharnais hooking Penguins winger Sergei Plotnikov in the Montreal end. “It seemed like he got hooked pretty good,” Fleury said. “But I guess the ref thought it was OK.”

*** The Penguins went 29-23 on faceoffs, led by Matt Cullen at 6-1.

*** Bennett was the Penguins’ best forward, and scored his goal on an excellent individual effort. He stole the puck in the defensive zone, then lugged it up the right side of the ice before throwing a shot past Montreal goalie Carey Price from above the faceoff dot. “Price was kind of cheating to his glove for my first few shots, so I just decided to throw it low-blocker,” Bennett said.

*** Right winger Patric Hornqvist was one of several players to note that the Penguins upgraded their performance, although he acknowledged that bar wasn’t set terribly high. “We played way better than we did in Phoenix [during a 2-1 loss last Saturday]. Phoenix was probably the worst game I’ve been a part of since I came here a year ago.”

*** The Penguins were 0-for-2 on the power play, leaving them 0-for-9 on the season. Johnston did, however, reunite Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the No. 1 unit.

*** More Hornqvist: “We improved a little bit, but some parts of our game are not there right now. That’s something we have to get corrected really, really quickly.”

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Perron skates with Malkin, Hornqvist

By Seth Rorabaugh 1 day ago
 Penguins left winger David Perron greets fans following warm ups at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona Saturday.
Getty Images/Getty Images North America
Penguins left winger David Perron greets fans following warm ups at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona Saturday.

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
Bobby Farnham

Ian Cole - Kris Letang
Olli Maatta - Ben Lovejoy
Brian Dumoulin - Rob Scuderi
Adam Clendening - Tim Erixon

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Coyotes 2, Penguins 1

By Dave Molinari 2 days ago

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.

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Minor league report - Penguins fall to Sound Tigers, 4-1

By Seth Rorabaugh 3 days ago

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.

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Penguins-Coyotes preview

By Dave Molinari 3 days ago

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.

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