GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Evgeni Malkin is starting to get his game back, which means trouble for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ opponents.
Malkin broke a tie with 7:24 remaining and Sidney Crosby added a pair of goals in the Penguins’ 4-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.
“His last three games have been his best since he’s been back,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said about Malkin. The Russian center hadn’t scored in his last six games and has 11 goals this season in 27 games after missing the first three months while recovering from offseason surgery on his right knee.
Malkin was stopped on a drive to the net against Scott Wedgewood, but finally corralled the puck and chipped it in. He was especially excited, as were the many Penguins fans among the 14,507 for the matinee game.
“He loves to score. There aren’t too many guys who get more excited about scoring goals,” Sullivan said. “But he’s also a real competitive guy.”
Crosby picked up a rebound off Jake Guentzel’s shot to score with 3:37 left and added an empty-net goal with 1:50 to play, giving him 22 goals for the season.
The Penguins outshot the Coyotes 48-21 for the game but had trouble finding the net. That included a two-man advantage around the second intermission; Barrett Hayton was called for hooking with 59 seconds to play in the second and, with 26 seconds to go, Keller was sent off for tripping. But the Penguins got little going, especially at the beginning of the third period.
“I thought we did a good job just moving by it and continuing to create chances,” Crosby said. “A lot of times when you don’t score on a 5 on 3, it can be the difference in the game, but I thought we just kept on at them and we were able to get that big one (from Malkin).”
Pittsburgh heads home after a three-game trip. The Penguins lost at Nashville and beat St. Louis on Thursday in a shootout.
“The biggest thing that separates most teams at this point is consistency,” Crosby said. “Everyone knows what their game looks like 60 games in. We’re in a good spot right now but we gotta continue to get better.”
Kasperi Kapanen also scored for Pittsburgh. Clayton Keller scored for Arizona. Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry picked up his 31st victory of the season.
Arizona was playing at home for the first time after winning four of five on a trip to the East.
“We didn’t have much, honestly,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “We had no pop, no fight, no execution. Our decisions were slow, from the coaches, players, everybody. It’s disappointing.”
Kapanen scored his 10th goal of the season 2:09 into the second period on a pass from Jeff Carter across the slot.
Keller split the defense and scored his 27th with 8:32 left in the second, with the puck trickling past Jarry. Anton Stralman picked up an assist.
He extended his scoring streak to eight games, best for Arizona this season. He has six goals and nine assists in that stretch.
Keller left the game in the third period with an undisclosed injury, but Tourigny said he is fine and should be available for Sunday.
Penguins: F Zach Aston-Reese (illness) and F Brock McGinn (upper body) missed Saturday’s game.
Coyotes: D Jakob Chychrun (lower body) missed his third straight game.
Penguins: Have won eight in a row against Arizona dating to Nov. 7, 2017. … Pittsburgh is 21-7-4 on the road, best in the NHL.
Coyotes: Their 38 goals in March lead the league. … Nick Schmaltz saw his seven-game points streak come to an end.
Penguins: Host Columbus on Tuesday night.
Coyotes: At San Jose on Sunday.
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