The Pittsburgh Penguins are proving that it’s never wise to count them out.
Not in games. Not in the chase for a playoff spot.
After struggling to gain their footing in the first several weeks of the season, the Penguins have been charging lately as they head into Tuesday’s home game against the Arizona Coyotes.
Pittsburgh has won five in a row and 16 of its past 18 games.
“I think our team has played a lot of consistent hockey,” said Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan, who also pointed to a couple recent slower starts as an area to shore up.
The Penguins stormed back from a one-goal deficit Friday behind captain Sidney Crosby’s hat trick to post a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Pittsburgh then received goals nine seconds apart in the third period and the winner in the shootout from Crosby for a 3-2 comeback win against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.
“Good teams find a way,” said Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang, who saw his 10-game point streak halted on Sunday.
“You can’t get discouraged when things don’t go your way. You don’t give up. You just keep going. For this team to come back in a game, it doesn’t take much. We have the talent and skill to do it.”
The Penguins also are getting strong play from goaltender Tristan Jarry, who ranks among the NHL leaders with a 2.09 goals-against average and a .928 goals-against average.
“He’s had one of the more heavy workloads in the league, and he’s handled it extremely well to this point,” Sullivan said.
The Penguins did not have an update Monday on forward Zach Aston-Reese or Teddy Blueger. Aston-Reese left Friday’s game after taking a shot off his left leg, while Blueger left Sunday’s game after a hit into the boards left him bleeding heavily from his nose and/or mouth.
Arizona, which is 1-2-0 on its four-game road trip, has lost two straight by a combined score of 11-3 — including Saturday’s come-from-ahead 7-3 loss against the New York Rangers.
In that game, the Coyotes had a season-high 16 shots in the first period and built a 3-1 lead before the Rangers came storming back with six unanswered goals.
“When their big guns get going, it’s pretty rough,” said Arizona defenseman Kyle Capobianco, who returned Saturday after being in COVID-19 protocol and essentially replaced Dysin Mayo (protocol).
Capobianco was talking about the Rangers, but that also can apply to the Penguins, who happen to be one of the teams chasing first-place New York in the Metropolitan Division.
Pittsburgh also has an explosive offense, as it demonstrated over the weekend.
“We have a good group,” Capobianco said. “We know we have a big challenge coming up in Pittsburgh. They have some big guns, too.
“I think we just need to stick to what we’ve been doing, establish our forecheck and get shots.”
The game brings Phil Kessel, who won two Stanley Cups with the Penguins, back to Pittsburgh. Kessel on Saturday played in his 940th consecutive games, the second-longest active ironman streak in the NHL.
–Field Level Media