PITTSBURGH (AP) – Patric Hornqvist had his first career hat trick, beating goalie Louis Domingue three times as the Pittsburgh Penguins made quick work of the sinking Arizona Coyotes 6-0 on Monday night.
Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang both had a goal and an assist. Matt Cullen scored his ninth of the season and Sidney Crosby added three assists as Pittsburgh began a busy week by sending the Coyotes to their sixth straight loss. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 30 shots for his fifth shutout of the season and the 43rd of his career.
Domingue made 27 saves but Arizona was never in it while going winless on a five-game road trip. The Coyotes have dropped eight consecutive games away from home and haven’t won on opposing ice since Jan. 25.
Pittsburgh has won three of four.
The victory provided a giddy end to a relatively quiet day. Pittsburgh’s only significant move before the 3 p.m. trade deadline consisted of sending Russian rookie forward Sergei Plotnikov to the Coyotes in the morning, ending the 25-year-old’s forgettable tenure with the Penguins.
Following a slow start he asked the team in December if he could return to the KHL in Russia. The Penguins declined, citing a roster freeze, and the request did not sit well with new coach Mike Sullivan, who made the power forward a healthy scratch for his final 20 games with Pittsburgh.
It made for an interesting day for Plotnikov, who made his way to the visitors’ locker room after the deal went through Monday morning and suited up for the Coyotes a few hours later. He skated on the fourth line and finished with one shot on goal in 12:10 of ice time while also picking up a minor penalty for tripping former teammate Ian Cole.
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford cited earlier deals that brought in defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Carl Hagelin as one of the main reasons Pittsburgh decided against getting too aggressive at the deadline. He believes his team is significantly better than it was in mid-December when it was languishing in the bottom third of the East.
The Penguins certainly played like it against the listless Coyotes, producing a handful of quality scoring chances in the opening minutes. Hornqvist cashed in 5:42 into the game by poking in his own rebound past a sprawled Domingue.
Arizona’s best chance to make things competitive ended when the Coyotes couldn’t convert during a 5-on-3 power play in the middle of the first and Hornqvist doubled Pittsburgh’s lead late in the period, deflecting a little flip from Kunitz that knuckled past Domingue’s glove.
Kunitz made it 3-0 just before the midway point, redirecting Letang’s shot from the point. Hornqvist completed his hat trick with a power-play goal 11:06 into the second that forced a brief delay when hundreds of Penguins sock monkeys – part of a promotion – rained onto the Consol Energy Center ice to celebrate the first hat trick on a Leap Day in team history.