Smith has 27 saves in Arizona’s 2-1 win over Pittsburgh
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Mike Smith took a shot to the head in the first period. By the third period, he was doing the splits to turn away the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Smith shook off a hard collision to stop 27 shots, Jordan Martinook scored his first career NHL goal and the Arizona Coyotes withstood a late flurry to beat the Penguins 2-1 on Saturday night.
”He’s just in a groove, stopping everything,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said of Smith.
Smith was injured in the first period after being run into by teammate Brad Richardson, who was shoved from behind by Pittsburgh’s Patric Hornqvist. Smith lay on the ice for a couple minutes, but stayed in and made some big saves down the stretch, including one while doing a split to stop Nick Bonino from close range. Smith has stopped 67 of 69 shots in two games.
Tobias Rieder also scored for the Coyotes, who have won their first two games for the first time since 2009-10. Arizona beat the Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh in consecutive games both seasons.
”It felt like a playoff game out there with all the energy,” Smith said. ”We just sort of picked up where we left off.”
Marc-Andre Fleury nearly matched Smith, stopping 37 shots, and Phil Kessel scored his first goal with Pittsburgh. But just like they did in Thursday’s season opener, the Penguins had trouble getting pucks to go into the net. Pittsburgh has two goals on 55 shots through two games, both losses.
”Right now it’s loose-puck battles and work ethic,” Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. ”When you’re playing a game like this, you know that’s a pure staple of the game.”
Arizona’s new-look team had an impressive debut Friday night, opening the season with a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings despite getting off just 22 shots. Max Domi had a goal and an assist in his NHL debut and Smith was superb in goal, turning away 40 shots.
The Coyotes had a short turnaround before playing their home opener against Pittsburgh, one of the NHL’s most talented offensive teams.
But for all their firepower, the Penguins fell flat in their opener, losing 3-0 at Dallas on Thursday. Kessel, Pittsburgh’s latest sharpshooter, took six shots, but Sidney Crosby failed to get one off and the Penguins failed in 37 attempts against Antti Niemi.
The first period had plenty of shots by both teams, but no goals.
Those came in rapid succession in the second period.
Rieder scored early after the Penguins knocked the puck into their own zone to negate an offside on Arizona. Anthony Duclair gathered the puck off the backboards and wrapped a pass around the goal to the slot, where Rieder one-timed a shot past Fleury.
The Penguins answered 17 seconds later, when Kessel scooped up a neutral-zone turnover by Shane Doan and beat Smith to the stick side.
Martinook put the Coyotes back up midway through the period, punching the puck past Fleury after a wild scramble in front that included five players hitting the ice at one point.
”My goal was just a scrap at the net and I just shoveled into the goal,” Martinook said. ”It’s not pretty, but that’s what we’ve got to do.”
The Penguins cranked up the offensive pressure in the third period, peppering Smith with one shot after another.
He made one tough save after another, including several during a flurry midway through, the highlight his stretch to get Bonino’s shot with his pad.
”We were able to generate some good chances later on, but it just took too long to generate those chances,” Crosby said.
Notes: Pittsburgh D Olli Maatta played in his 100th career NHL game. … Arizona D Zbynek Michalek was out with an upper-body injury and is listed as day to day. … Doan turned 39 on Saturday and passed Roman Hamrik for 34th on the NHL’s all-time games played list with No. 1,396. … The Coyotes and Penguins meet again on Feb. 29 in Pittsburgh.