The Pittsburgh Penguins have picked up where they left off.
Pittsburgh looks to open with three straight wins for the first time in 14 years Wednesday night when it hosts the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Penguins carried the momentum from winning their third Stanley Cup into this season, beating the New York Rangers 3-2 on Friday. That came a night before Sidney Crosby scored the deciding goal in the shootout of a 4-3 road win over the New York Islanders.
“This was not an easy week, and what could have been a mail-in when we say ‘Oh, it’s not our night’ we put our nose down, went to work as a group and were able to scratch out two points,” coach Dan Bylsma said Saturday after his team forced overtime when Ruslan Fedotenko scored with 3:49 to play.
Pittsburgh is in position to win its first three games for the first time since matching the franchise record with seven straight victories to open the 1995 season.
Crosby has been a big part of the current start, scoring a goal in each of the first two games while adding an assist Saturday. The 22-year-old center has 400 points in 292 games, making him the sixth fastest in history to reach that mark after Wayne Gretzky (197), Mario Lemieux (240), Peter Stastny (247), Eric Lindros (277) and Mike Bossy (283).
The three-time All-Star has a goal and four assists in three games against the Coyotes.
Crosby was held without a point in a 4-1 loss at Phoenix on Oct. 30 in the only meeting last season. These clubs haven’t played at Mellon Arena since the Penguins won 3-1 on Dec. 3, 2007.
The Coyotes are seeking a second consecutive 2-0-0 start. In 2008-09, they missed the playoffs for a team-record sixth consecutive season, and the franchise has been in turmoil since.
Phoenix entered bankruptcy protection in May and Gretzky re-signed as coach nine days before the start of the season. Dave Tippett was named his replacement hours later.
The Coyotes put that tumultuous offseason behind them and won 6-3 at Los Angeles on Saturday as Ilya Bryzgalov made 30 saves and Radim Vrbata scored twice.
“I just talked to the other guys, I tell them, we can’t do anything about it (so) we don’t care,” Bryzgalov said. “We just have to practice well and play well.
“We don’t have to worry about what goes on outside the hockey rink because we can’t do anything. We can’t buy a team or sell a team.”
The Coyotes’ three-game road trip concludes Thursday against Buffalo. They had a Western Conference-low 30 points as the visitor last season, going 13-24-4 and winning consecutive games twice.