Penguins 3, Coyotes 1
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan understands the risk/reward when he pairs Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel.
When fully engaged and focused on the finer points of the game, they are as dynamic as any second-line duo in the NHL. When they're not, things can get sloppy. Really sloppy. So Sullivan will occasionally split them up, as he did with Pittsburgh's offense languishing at the end of a road trip out West.
Yet Sullivan almost always puts them back together, confident the good will outweigh whatever baggage might come along with it. The evidence was on display during a workmanlike 3-1 victory over Arizona on Tuesday night.
Malkin and Kessel both had a goal and two assists as the Penguins put together a clinical performance to take some of the sting out of an uneven five-game swing through Western Canada.
"They were threats most shifts," Sullivan said. "They're playing hard right now. ... What our coaching staff really likes is how hard they're playing, how committed they are."
Funny how much better the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions look when that happens.
"We're excited to play together but we need to understand it's one game," Malkin said. "It's important, but now we need to do it more."
Justin Schultz scored in his return from a concussion and Matt Murray stopped 24 shots to stretch his home unbeaten streak to 13 games.
Tobias Rieder got his third goal of the season for the Coyotes, who fell to an NHL-worst 2-13-2. Antti Raanta made 34 saves but was sloppy in the early going as the Penguins raced to a quick lead.
Schultz scored 59 seconds into the game and Malkin made it 2-0 just over two minutes later. That was more than enough for Murray, who was rarely challenged.
"Those are tough games sometimes," Murray said. "You get periods of time where you're just standing there doing nothing and trying to keep yourself engaged and all of a sudden it's a 3-on-1 or a breakaway. It can be a bit difficult at times but as a team we did a good job handling it, keeping them contained and not giving them a whole lot."
Sullivan joked that a visit by Arizona coach Rick Tocchet — who spent the last two seasons as Sullivan's top lieutenant while the Penguins became the first team in nearly two decades to win back-to-back Cups — was exactly what Pittsburgh needed to get it going. He might have been on to something.
By the time the crowd rose to its feet to give Tocchet a standing ovation during a first-period stoppage, the Penguins were already up by two.
"That's pretty much what you get with a back-to-back and you give up two quick goals early on in a game," Raanta said. "As a goalie, you don't want to do that. The first 10 minutes are usually crucial and the first one was that kind of goal you don't want to let in. It was tough for the team after those two goals."
Raanta settled down after his sluggish start and kept Arizona in it thanks in part to a sprawling save with his right pad to thwart a 2-on-1. Rieder's goal 26 seconds into the third briefly gave the Coyotes hope and marked Arizona's first score in Pittsburgh since March 28, 2015.
The rally never fully materialized, mostly because the Coyotes couldn't stay out of the penalty box. Arizona took six penalties in all, and the NHL's second-ranked power play finally broke through when Kessel knocked a floating puck out of the air and into an open net 6:06 into the third to restore Pittsburgh's two-goal advantage.
"I thought the PK did a great job," Tocchet said. "I think they did a hell of a job. They got some zone time a little bit, but you can't give (the Penguins) (12) minutes of power plays."
Oilers 2, Islanders 1
Connor McDavid scored 38 seconds into overtime to lead Edmonton over New York.
McDavid finished a flashy 2-on-1 by lifting a shot past Greiss for the winner after taking in a spinning backhand pass from Leon Draisaitl.
Draisaitl also scored for Edmonton, which has won two of three to improve to 5-8-1. Cam Talbot made 36 saves.
Thomas Greiss made 23 saves, and the Islanders got their goal from former Oiler Jordan Eberle.
New York has lost two of three and fell to 8-5-2. The Islanders are 5-0-2 at Barclays Center this season.
Blues 3, Devils 1
Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz scored in a 1:35 span bridging the second and third periods and St. Louis sent New Jersey to its season-high third straight loss.
Jake Allen made 21 saves and Brayden Schenn scored into an empty net as the Blues beat the Devils for the eighth straight time. Schenn also had two assists, giving him six in the last two games.
Tarasenko, who left the Blues' practice early Monday with upper body soreness, also had an assist on Schwartz's winner.
Blake Coleman scored early in the first period for New Jersey, but he also was in the penalty box when Schwartz scored 32 seconds into the third period. Cory Schneider had 37 saves for New Jersey, which is 0-2-1 in its last three.
Predators 3, Blue Jackets 1
Calle Jarnkrok scored in the third period, Pekka Rinne stopped 35 shots and Nashville beat Columbus.
Jarnkrok put Nashville ahead to stay, sweeping a rebound past goaltender Joonas Korpisalo at 14:25. The Blue Jackets challenged the goal, contending Kevin Fiala interfered with Korpisalo and kept him from making the save, but it was upheld after a video replay.
Matt Irwin scored in the first period and Viktor Arvidsson got an empty-net goal in the final minute as the Predators won their third straight game.
The Blue Jackets have lost three straight for the first time this season.
Canadiens 3, Knights 2
Brendan Gallagher and Jordie Benn scored in the first period and Montreal beat Vegas for its third straight win.
Max Pacioretty also scored for Montreal, which has gone 5-1-0 since starting the season 2-7-1. Goaltender Charlie Lindgren, called up from AHL Laval last week when Carey Price went out with a lower body injury, won his second game in a row and has won all five of his NHL starts over the last three seasons.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Erik Haula scored for Vegas, which ended a six-game trip 1-4-1. The Knights were coming off a shootout loss in Toronto on Monday night and were playing their sixth game in nine days.
Sabres 3, Capitals 1
Benoit Pouliot scored the go-ahead goal on an end-to-end rush 3:22 into the third period, and Buffalo snapped Washington's three-game winning streak.
Evander Kane scored twice, including an empty-netter with 20 seconds left, and Robin Lehner stopped 24 shots. Buffalo won for just the second time in five games.
Alex Ovechkin scored his 13th of the season and extended his goal streak to three games for the Capitals.
Capitals backup Philipp Grubauer, starting in place of Braden Holtby, stopped 29 shots in dropping his record to 0-4-1 this season and extending his skid to 0-5-1 dating to last year.
Hurricanes 3, Panthers 1
Derek Ryan scored the go-ahead goal at 9:35 of the third period and Carolina beat Florida to snap a four-game losing streak.
Brock McGinn also scored, Justin Williams added an empty-netter and rookie Roland McKeown had his first two assists for the Hurricanes.
Vincent Trocheck scored for the Panthers, and Roberto Luongo made 45 saves in his second game back from a hand injury.
Scott Darling stopped 30 shots for Carolina.
Canucks 5, Flames 3
Henrik Sedin scored for the first time this season 38 seconds after Bo Horvat's tiebreaking goal, lifting Vancouver over Calgary.
Sam Gagner, Thomas Vanek and Derek Dorsett also scored for Vancouver, which has four straight road wins. Dorsett leads the team with seven goals.
Dougie Hamilton, Johnny Gaudreau and Micheal Ferland scored for Calgary.
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