Despite his teammate Sidney Crosby having one of the best seasons in NHL history, Evgeni Malkin was the best player on the ice on Monday night. Malkin tied a career high with five points; two goals and three assists, in the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-1 victory over the Coyotes. Crosby had a goal and two assists himself.
Things were really bad for Phoenix on both sides of the ice. Offensively, they struggled to put pressure on Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury throughout the night. After 16 shots in the first 20 minutes, Phoenix managed only 11 shots on Fleury the final 40 minutes. Phoenix was also held scoreless eight times on the power play. Wojtek Wolski had the lone Coyotes goal about midway through the third period.
It wasn’t much better for the defense. Pittsburgh ended up with 38 shots on the night. In his third straight start because of an Ilya Bryzgalov upper body injury, Jason LaBarbera was pulled after a Matt Cooke goal made it 5-0 Pittsburgh when the game was barely halfway over. Matt Climie came in to spell LaBarbera after that and allowed only one goal the rest of the night. Climie could get a start on Thursday night if Bryz is unable to go.
Phoenix will have to chalk up this one as one of those games where they simply had an off night. Malkin had one of those nights where no one on the planet would have been able to stop him. When you let him and Crosby go off, Pittsburgh might very well be the best team in the league. They were playing great hockey before their last two losses and it appears that they are right back on track after this win.
Luckily for the Coyotes, they have a few days to shake this one off. They head back to the west coast to face the Sharks in San Jose on Thursday night. The puck will drop at 8:30 p.m.