PITTSBURGH (AP) – Justin Schultz scored in his return from a concussion, Matt Murray stopped 24 shots and the Pittsburgh Penguins had little trouble with the Arizona Coyotes in a 3-1 win Tuesday night.
Evgeni Malkin scored his team-high seventh goal for the Penguins and added two assists. Phil Kessel also had a goal and two assists for Pittsburgh, which returned from a long road trip by spoiling Arizona coach Rick Tocchet’s return to the city where he won three Stanley Cups – one as a player and two as an assistant coach.
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 more than two minutes later. That was more than enough for Murray, who was rarely challenged.
The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions are still searching for consistency a month into the season thanks in large part to a rugged schedule that’s forced them to play 11 of their first 16 games on the road. They slogged through a five-game swing through Western Canada, winning just once while struggling to generate goals outside of their talent-rich power play.
Head coach Mike Sullivan joked that a visit by 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.
Sullivan might have been on to something.
Schultz missed six games while recovering from a concussion but wasted little time making up for lost time. His innocent fling from the goal line smacked off Raanta and into the net less than a minute in for his first goal since the season opener against Nashville.
Malkin scored his fourth goal in his last six games 3:07 into the first when he flicked home a rebound off Kessel’s shot. Raanta settled down after that, making a series of stellar saves to keep it close, including a dazzling stop with his right pad on Jake Guentzel in the second period to thwart a 2-on-1.
Rieder’s goal 26 seconds into the third briefly got the Coyotes back in it and marked Arizona’s first score in Pittsburgh since March 28, 2015.
The rally never fully materialized, mostly because Arizona couldn’t stay out of the penalty box. The Coyotes 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.
NOTES: The Penguins wore purple jerseys during warmups as part of a cancer awareness campaign. The jerseys will be autographed and auctioned online, with the proceeds going to benefit research at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and the Mario Lemieux Foundation. … To make room for Schultz on the roster, the Penguins reassigned D Zach Trotman to Wilkes Barre/Scranton. … Penguins captain Sidney Crosby did not have a shot, the first time he’s gone without one in a regular-season game since March 3, 2017, against Tampa Bay.
Coyotes: Finish a three-game road trip in St. Louis on Thursday.
Penguins: Play at Washington on Friday. Pittsburgh edged the rival Capitals 3-2 on Oct. 10.
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