Fleury Leads Penguins Past Coyotes 2-1

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) controls the puck against Phoenix Coyotes left wing Lauri Korpikoski (28) during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE

Ray Whitney would score early in the third, but the Phoenix Coyotes could not overcome two first period goals from the Pittsburg Penguins, and have now dropped their first three games of the month after going 11-0-1 in February.

In just over three minute span near the midway mark of the first period the Penguins would put in two goals that would give them the lead for the remainder of the game.

Defenseman Zbynek Michalek scored a rare goal and Chris Kunitz would get his 19th of the year on a play set up by the NHL's leader in points, Evgeni Malkin. Malkin is now one point from 500 for his career.

With the win Monday, the Penguins have won six straight, their second longest streak of the season.

Both goaltenders played stellar, but the games first star has to go to Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguin goaltender has stopped 30 plus shots in four straight games, including a 37 save performance against the Coyotes Monday night.

Fleury's highlight play of the night came against Martin Hanzal when he had a shorthanded breakaway opportunity. Fleury would charge at Hanzal, who was caught off guard by the charging goaltender, and just get a piece of the puck with the back of his leg.

Mike Smith would finish the game with 26 saves in the loss.

After Whitney put the Coyotes on the board early in the final period to make it 2-1, the Coyotes had a few solid chances to tie the game up. The Coyotes best opportuinty came when Antoine Vermette had a wide open net on a rebound, but he would be hooked off his skates by Matt Niskanen, preventing the sure goal.

The streaky play from the teams within the Pacific Divison has made it the tighest contested division in the NHL. The top four teams are separated by only three points, and all of them will be in action tomorrow.

People may say it is too early for teams to be looking at the scores of other games, but it's not. Every game played by a Western Conference team has major influence in the standings.

The Coyotes will wrap up a quick two-game roadtrip Tuesday in Columbus against the Blue Jackets. The 'Yotes will be looking to avenge Saturdays loss against the NHL's worst team. Puck drops at 5 p.m. Arizona time.

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