For two teams that had only seen each other once in the past 3 and a half years, there was a lot of bad blood between the Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins at the Mellon Arena Monday night. It makes me wish the two meet a little more often. This is also true because I like saying "Coyotes" (It's not Co-yo-tes, people. It's Coy-otes).
The Penguins squandered 4 power-play oppurtunities in the 1st period, but Maxime Talbot, in his first game back from a high ankle sprain, scored in the final minute of the period giving Pittsburgh the 1-0 lead. The goal was assisted by Georges Laraque, who was playing his first game against his former team since being traded to the Penguins last season.
Despite ample opportunities the scored stayed at 1-0 through the 2nd period and into the 3rd, in part thanks to a couple posts and crossbars.
If the Penguins are going to put together a winning streak like the one that catapulted them to the top of the Atlantic division last season, they are going to have to learn how to put away teams. But they didn't, the Coyotes held on, and on the power-play a minute 26 seconds into the 3rd.
Thankfully the Penguins finally took advantage of their numerous power-play opportunities. Scoring on their 7th power-play when Sidney Crosby's fake shot-pass found Kris Letang, who scored his first goal of the season.
Later Tyler Kennedy put the game away with a wicked wrist shot that beat Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov near post.
Fleury faced only 18 shots and allowed only 1 goal while he picked up his 3rd straight victory. In some of the most entertaining moments of the game, with less than a minute left in the game Fleury looked several times at attempting to shot down ice on the Coyotes empty net, but did not get a shot off. The Penguins teammates appeared to jokingly give Fleury a hard time about it after the buzzer.
Perhaps coach Michel Therrien has stumbled upon a good motivator for his young squad, "lead by 2 and I'll let Fleury shoot at the empty net".
Without a doubt Maxime Talbot was the driving force in this victory, and just in case there was any doubt as to how important he is to this team while he was absent, there is not anymore.
The Penguins (12-12-2) press on a break neck speed, heading to Edmonton to take on the Oilers on Wednesday night.