Pittsburgh Penguins Blow Out Arizona Coyotes, 6-0


Patric Hornqvist scored his first career hat trick and Marc-Andre Fleury shut the door as the Pittsburgh Penguins drubbed the Arizona Coyotes, 6-0.

Today marked the NHL’s trade deadline, the last day during the season on which players can be traded. The first trade of the day involved the Pittsburgh Penguins and Arizona Coyotes, with the Pens dumping Sergei Plotnikov for a prospect and conditional draft pick. One of the last trades of the day saw the Penguins send prospect Matia Marcantuoni to Arizona in return for well-traveled former Penguin Dustin Jeffrey along with Dan O’Donoghue and James Melindy.

It’s fitting, then, that these two teams were slated to play each other on the same day.

While most recently-traded players are dealing with visa issues or are on flights to their new city, Plotnikov had only to walk down the hall to the visitor’s locker room. Just hours after being traded he was on the ice in his new jersey, squaring off against the only NHL teammates he’s known.

The Coyotes weren’t a particularly formidable opponent prior to the trades they made today, and still really aren’t. A distant fourth in the weaker Pacific Division, there’s little chance they’ll make the playoffs. However, they play a physical game, and Plotnikov showed off his prowess in that department and took every chance he had to prove a point to his former team.

Related Story: Pittsburgh Penguins Trade Sergei Plotnikov to Arizona

Unfortunately for him and the Coyotes, that doesn’t gain them any points. Just minutes into the first period, Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist teamed up to tap the puck behind Louis Domingue, a rookie goaltender who took over the reins from Mike Smith and now Anders Lindback due to lengthy injuries.

The physicality did play a role in the pace of the game, however. Martin Hanzal took a penalty for hooking shortly after the goal; it was killed but not without several good chances for the Pens.

Later in the period, Derrick Pouliot was called for cross-checking as he slammed Jordan Martinook into the boards. Before the penalty could be killed Tom Kuhnhackl tripped up Domingue behind his net, leading to a 5 on 3 matchup for nearly forty seconds.

With a strong powerplay unit headmanned by players like Max Domi, Antoine Vermette, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the Coyotes are a major threat on the man advantage. Marc-Andre Fleury was stellar as the Coyotes sustained pressure in his zone, and played a major role in killing both penalties up to this point.

The Penguins’ penalty killers have been 100% successful for 13 out of their last 15 home games, including tonight’s.

With just under two minutes left in the first period, Hornqivst scored his second of the game. After knocking in Crosby’s rebound on the first goal, he again used his constant netfront presence to make an impact, tipping in Chris Kunitz‘s shot.

Preventing the Pens from gaining much momentum from the second goal, though, Carl Hagelin took a penalty for tripping. It’s rare that the speedy forward is in a position where he would even be able to trip someone. His penalty carried over to the second period and was killed off. Pittsburgh’s backup goalie Matt Murray even helped the penalty killers, gloving a runaway puck from the bench.

Soon into the second, Plotnikov was a little too rough against his previous team, tripping Ian Cole in the Arizona zone and heading off to the penalty box. The penalty was killed off and Plotnikov returned to the ice.

The top line cashed in for another goal as Kunitz tipped in Kris Letang‘s shot from the point, putting them up 3-0. Crosby had assists on all three goals up to this point.

Feb 29, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Patric Hornqvist (72) celebrates with the Penguins bench after scoring his third goal of the game against the Arizona Coyotes during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 29, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Patric Hornqvist (72) celebrates with the Penguins bench after scoring his third goal of the game against the Arizona Coyotes during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Seconds later, the Penguins went back on the man advantage as Zbynek Michalek was called for delay of game. They quickly came close to scoring their fourth goal. The net got dislodged, so it didn’t count, but Hornqvist wasn’t about to let the Penguins go wanting. He scored his first career hat trick, on assists from Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel.

The Coyotes appeared to be getting frazzled and took yet another penalty, this time against Connor Murphy for interference.

This is Malkin’s second game back from a ten-game absence due to injury, and it’s obvious how much the Penguins need his skill. On this powerplay, he cut through four players on the defense and dragged the puck right up to Domingue’s doorstep. Though the penalty was killed, Malkin’s effective presence on the powerplay was a breath of fresh air.

Not helping their young goalie out much, the ‘Yotes were a man down for a lot of the second period. Klas Dahlbeck went to the box with just about four minutes left in the period, putting the Penguins’ top powerplay unit back on the ice again.

The Dahlbeck penalty was killed, but the damage had been done. The Penguins rode some serious momentum into the second intermission, and their strong play throughout the whole game would prevent the Coyotes from staging a comeback.

A major problem the Pens have had in the past is that they just turn off the jets whenever they get a lead, which they then give up. Though that’s been less of a problem since Dan Bylsma’s firing a few years ago, you wouldn’t know it had ever been an issue based on the way the Pens played in the third period.

The boys in black and gold sustained long periods of pressure in the Arizona zone, peppering Domingue with shots and overwhelming the Coyotes. Plotnikov tried his best to stick it to the team he was part of just this morning, but to no avail.

Letang put another nail in the coffin, shooting a bomb through traffic and right into the back of the net. There were five players between Letang and Domingue, and miraculously the shot went straight through.

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Not to be outdone, Matt Cullen put the Penguins up 6-0 on the very next rush. Cullen’s shot from Domingue’s right side appeared to just barely tap his glove and redirect into the net. Bryan Rust and Ian Cole got the helpers, spreading the team’s scoring out over all four lines.

In the past two games – games that saw Malkin and Nick Bonino rejoin the lineup – the Penguins outscored their opponents 10-1. Hopefully, they can continue this offensive explosion tomorrow against the league-leading Washington Capitals.