Crosby, DeSmith help Penguins snap 5-game skid
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins hope a decisive home shutout can put a recent week-and-a-half long swoon in the past.
Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist, Casey DeSmith stopped 39 shots and the Penguins beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0 on Saturday night to snap a five-game losing streak.
“It’s the statement win that everybody wanted and everybody needed to kind of feel good and turn the ship around,” DeSmith said. “I think it’s one of those scenarios where once we get one win and start to feel good about ourselves, hopefully things will carry on from there.”
The Penguins won four straight by a combined 23-6 during a Canadian trip, then struggled with losses in their next five games before Saturday’s win.
The losing streak was Pittsburgh’s longest since it lost five in a row from Dec. 11-19, 2015, which included the first four games under coach Mike Sullivan. The Penguins haven’t lost six straight since 2006. Pittsburgh also ended a four-game home losing streak and continued a six-game points streak against Arizona.
“This is a proud group, we have high expectations and we believe in these guys,” Sullivan said. “I’m thrilled for these players because they got rewarded for their efforts.”
DeSmith had his second shutout of the season and third of his career. Starter Matt Murray served as the backup for the second straight game. He has one win in five home starts.
DeSmith, signed by Pittsburgh as an undrafted free agent in July 2017, has allowed five goals in his last six appearances.
“It’s always great to see your teammates have success, especially in his case,” Crosby said. “He’s just coming in and doing a great job.”
Crosby scored his eighth goal, and Dominik Simon also had a goal and an assist. Patric Hornqvist scored his fifth, and Brian Dumoulin had his first goal in 22 games for Pittsburgh.
Darcy Kuemper stopped 28 shots for the Coyotes. They lost their third straight game after winning the previous five. Arizona hasn’t won in Pittsburgh since March 25, 2014.
“I had a good start and then they scored three in the second,” Kuemper said. “That was kind of too big of a hole to come back.”
Crosby broke a scoreless deadlock at 6:42 of the second period. Crosby, streaking down the right side, lifted a backhander from a sharp angle over the shoulder of a standing Kuemper.
“He was coming with a lot of speed,” Kuemper said. “I didn’t even go down. I wasn’t really over-cheating. He just made a really good shot and made me look silly.”
Simon extended the lead 1:52 later when he redirected a Bryan Rust pass behind Kuemper from the top of the crease.
Hornqvist made it a 3-0 game with 15.3 seconds to play in the second period. Hornqvist one-timed a behind-the-net feed from Simon over Kuemper’s blocker.
It was more than enough to help the Penguins snap their losing streak.
“It’s one win,” Crosby said. “I think the goal is to play every game like this one and give ourselves a chance every night. It’s too good of a league not to. This is the urgency we need every night.”
NOTES: Arizona’s Clayton Keller played in his 100th NHL game. The Penguins have won seven of their last nine against Arizona. Phil Kessel has a 10-game point streak against Arizona with points in 13 of 16 career meetings. ... D Ilya Lyubushkin replaced D Alex Goligoski in the Coyotes’ lineup, who is out with a lower-body injury. Penguins’ F Derick Brassard (lower body) missed his seventh straight game. F Garrett Wilson and D Juuso Riikola played in place of D Jamie Oleksiak and F Daniel Sprong, who were scratched for Pittsburgh. F Josh Archibald played for F Richard Panik, while D Dakota Mermis also sat for Arizona.
Coyotes: At Washington on Sunday night.
Penguins: At New Jersey on Tuesday night.