PITTSBURGH — Arizona Coyotes coach Dave Tippett was a man of few words following his team’s 7-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night.
He answered just one question and was quite blunt in his assessment of his team’s performance, saying they simply did not play at an NHL level.
“They’re struggling with execution,” said Tippett. “There is a standard you have to play to in the NHL, whether you are a young guy or a veteran, and we did not play or compete at an NHL level tonight and we ended up that is the score you get. That is where we are at today.”
That was it. Fifty-four words. All of them fairly accurate.
Starting goalie Mike Smith ended up getting pulled midway through the second period after giving up four goals on 22 shots, but it would impossible to hang this one on him, especially Penguins’ second and third goals were scored off brutal turnovers that simply set up Nick Bonino and Trevor Daley for one-timers.
Then two minutes later this happened.
At that point everything started to get away from the Coyotes.
The Penguins’ seven goals were scored by seven different players, including Sidney Crosby who scored his league-leading 21st goal of the season (in just his 23rd game) when he knocked a rebound in out of mid-air.
Penguins goalie Matt Murray stopped all 32 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season.
The Penguins and Coyotes entered this game as two teams trending in very different directions. On one side you had the Penguins, defending Stanley Cup champions, riding a five-game winning streak, sitting in first place in the Metropolitan Division, and scoring goals like it is a different decade in the NHL. On the other, you had a young, rebuilding Arizona team that was without its best forward (Max Domi after he was injured in a recent fight), had lost six of its past seven games and was tied with Colorado for the worst record in the league.
On paper, there is an obvious gap between the two rosters.
It was evident on the ice from the opening face off.