At times during Tuesday’s 6-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes at PPG Paints Arena, fans may thought they were seeing the hockey equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters making a laughingstock out of the Washington Generals.
The first Penguins goal, which came on the power play, was set up by Sidney Crosby, who slid a backwards pass, between his legs, across to the ice to Bryan Rust, who popped it into an open net to tie the game at 1-1.
“Are you guys surprised,” jokingly asked defenseman Kris Letang, who scored two goals in the win. “We work on different plays, and we have two guys (Crosby and Evgeni Malkin) who are super stars, future hall of Famers. Those plays, they can make them it at a really high speed. Sometimes you think they have eyes behind their head.”
The final goal was as equally breathtaking, with monstrous, 6-foot-7 Brian Boyle taking a pass in front of the net, and going between his legs to find the top of the net.
Boyle’s goal was the fourth consecutive for the Penguins, which quickly erased three one-goal deficits and out-shot the hapless Coyotes 36-16 on the night.
“We were a little bit patient all night,” Rust said. “We didn’t try to take too make risks in the first two periods. And in the third we got some bounces, they took a few unnecessary chances, and we capitalized on them.
“And as far as Boyle’s (goal), that was awesome.”
The Penguins have now won a remarkable 17 of 19 games, one of the best runs in the team’s illustrious history.
“There’s never a sense of satisfaction,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “There’s always a hunger for more. And that starts with our core players… That’s where it starts for me. These guys, they’re accomplished players and they’ve built such an impressive legacy, but they’re hungry for more.
“They have an appetite to win and that’s contagious in our locker room.”
Rust and Crosby each had a goal and assisted two more. And Brock McGinn began the final comeback effort with his tenth goal of the year.
Despite those goals and the runaway win, the Penguins were the first to admit that, despite going home victorious, there was plenty of there game to clean up. Pittsburgh is winning, and that’s key. But the quality of those wins has been lacking at times.
The Penguins had to rally from 2-0 down to beat Winnipeg on Sunday, and fell behind on multiple occasions to a last-placed team Tuesday.
“Everybody involved, from the coaching staff on down, knows that it’s not our best and is not going to cut it down the line,” Rust added. “But I think it shows something for our group that we can find ways to win those games.”