Coyotes falter in third period, can't continue high-scoring ways in loss to Penguins

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Despite all of their wins of late, the Coyotes are being badly out-shot by opponents.

That trend continued Saturday afternoon. Only this time, the Coyotes couldn't continue making the most of their fewer shots on goal, another recent pattern they've had of late, and fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 at Gila River Arena.

The Coyotes (20-37-4) had been the NHL's highest-scoring team this month, with 37 goals in March, going into Saturday. They've flooded the net with pucks, but haven't generated a lot of opportunities.

They couldn't get more than one into the net against the Penguins, and even that one barely went in.

On Saturday they scored once on just 21 shots on goal, the 27th goal of the season for All-Star Clayton Keller. It tied the game at just after the midway point of the second period, helping validate all of the career high saves goalie Scott Wedgewood was forced to make with the Penguins constantly bearing down on him.

"Didn't really have much, honestly, I don't know what to say. We had no pop, we had no fight, we had no execution, our decisions were slow from the coaches, the players, everybody. It's not just one guy," Coyotes head coach André Tourigny said. "We over-passed the puck, passed when it was time shoot, shoot when it was time to pass."

In the past five games, opponents have 27, 20, 28, 11 and 15 more shots on goal then the Coyotes.

Keller missed much of the third period after being tripped for a Pittsburgh penalty, but Tourigny said after the game that Keller is fine and will be re-evaluated, but should be OK to play Sunday at San Jose.

Mar 19, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) scores a goal against Arizona Coyotes goaltender Scott Wedgewood (31) during the third period at Gila River Arena.
Mar 19, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) scores a goal against Arizona Coyotes goaltender Scott Wedgewood (31) during the third period at Gila River Arena.

Wedgewood did all he could and then some to keep the Coyotes close, but after scoring five goals or more in five of the last six games, the offense for Arizona wasn't there on Saturday against one of the NHL's top teams.

"I've just kind of been staying even-keel and focusing on what I need to," Wedgewood said, citing the balance he's found with his stance as a reason for his success.

After Pittsburgh (38-16-9) took the lead on Kasperi Kapanen's goal 2 minutes and 9 seconds into the second period, Keller struck about nine minutes later. Skating ahead of two defenders, he took a feed from defenseman Anton Stralman and shot the puck as his momentum carried him toward the net.

For a split second, it looked as if Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry had made the save. But the puck somehow slid under his pads and over the goal line, triggering the sound of the goal horn, and Keller's points streak reached eight games.

The Penguins poured it on in the third period with three late goals, two from Sidney Crosby.

"It sucks to lose a game that's 1-1 going into the third period," Coyotes forward Matias Maccelli said. "They played well defensively."

Saturday's game was the last scheduled afternoon start of the season at home, and therefore the last such game at Gila River Arena. The team's final 10 games of the season in Glendale, their last 10 before the Coyotes play out of Arizona State's multipurpose arena next season, all have nighttime starts.

'Bear' track

Tourigny was asked about Wedgewood keeping the Coyotes in the game, and if there is concern about fewer shots on goal from the team, or if it is more about what the team does with the shots they generate.

Up next

The Coyotes play the second of a back-to-back set of games Sunday afternoon at San Jose.

Get in touch with Jose Romero at Jose.Romero@gannett.com. Find him on Twitter at @RomeroJoseM.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona Coyotes fall to Pittsburgh Penguins, despite 45 Wedgewood saves