However much good the Phoenix Coyotes did during their seven-game winning streak at the end of November was completely washed away with the events that transpired at the CONSOL Energy Center on Monday night. Looking to get back to .500 on this road trip, the Coyotes were embarrassed against the Pittsburgh Penguins, losing 6-1.
Leading the way for the Pens was star forward Evgeni Malkin. While Phoenix didn't do much of stopping anything on Monday, the big Russian gave the Coyotes the biggest headache, finishing with five points, including a pair of goals and a trio of assists. Sidney Crosby had a game as well, with three points of his own, extending that streak to 21 games in a row with a point.
If Jason LaBarbera was trying to make a case for more playing time, he certainly took a step back on Monday. With no Ilya Bryzgalov, LaBarbera saw his third start in a row, but would not finish the game. After allowing five goals on 22 shots, LaBarbera was pulled in favor of AHL callup Matt Climie, who would allow one goal for the rest of the game.
It wasn't as if he got much help from the blueline, however. Similar to the loss to the New Jersey Devils, the Coyotes' defensemen struggled throughout the night. Phoenix's top four defenseman each finished with a minus rating, with Derek Morris contributing the only point from a d-man, assisting on the lone Phoenix goal, which came on a fluke deflection off of Wojtek Wolski.
Both teams had a hard time staying out of the box, in what became a very physical game. Despite the fact that the Coyotes spent less time in the box than Pittsburgh, they failed to capitalize on any of their opportunities with the man advantage, looking much of the time like they were at full strength, though they were playing a man up. The Penguins, however, netted three power play goals.
Frustrations mounted for the Coyotes, particularly in the third period. Taylor Pyatt was booked for fighting, Vernon Fiddler was hit with a double minor, and both Scottie Upshall and Nolan Yonkman received game misconducts.
The loss sends the Coyotes to 1-3 on the road trip, with two left to play before they return to Jobing.com Arena next week. After sneaking up on the National Hockey League last year, these Coyotes aren't sneaking up on anybody, and may not have realized it yet. It will take strong leadership from more than just Shane Doan to rebound from a loss like Monday night.