GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Two nights after losing to the Eastern Conference’s worst team, the Phoenix Coyotes handled the best.
Zbynek Michalek scored against his former team, his first goal in 83 games, and the Coyotes became the first Pacific Division team to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in regulation this season with a 3-1 victory on Saturday night.
Mike Ribeiro had a goal and an assist for Phoenix. Radim Vrbata scored the third goal for the Coyotes, who were coming off perhaps their worst loss of the season, 3-2 at home to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.
“I think we had something to prove,” Michalek said. “We believed in this room that when we play the right way, we can play against any team. I think tonight was a great effort by everybody.”
Michalek’s previous goal was scored on March 5, 2012, for Pittsburgh against Phoenix.
“It’s been almost two years,” he said. “Hopefully I don’t have to wait that long for the next one.”
Michalek acknowledged that he had extra motivation for this one.
“For sure,” he said. “This one feels good, and for me even sweeter. Anytime you play against your former team, you want to show up, you want to win.”
Mike Smith, back in goal after Phoenix had gone with Thomas Greiss the previous two games, made 23 saves. Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 shots.
With just 24 shots, the Penguins‘ offense was off its usual form.
“Tonight was a tough-fought game. There wasn’t a lot out there,” Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. “That’s the kind of games we expect. We have to be able to play a patient game, not be taking chances with the way we play or the way we play with the puck.”
Playing in front 17,362, the Coyotes‘ second-largest home crowd this season, Pittsburgh fell behind 2-0. The Penguins made it a one-goal game before Vrbata’s shot on a 2-on-1 rush slipped through Fleury to make it 3-1 with 15:47 to play.
The Penguins fell to 2-10 in games in which NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby fails to get a point.