Mar 25, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) handles the puck against pressure from Phoenix Coyotes left wing Brandon McMillan (38) during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Penguins Drop Another Close One At Home, This Time To Coyotes

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For the second straight game, the Pittsburgh Penguins were a shot away from forcing overtime. For the second straight game, they couldn’t get that shot to go in.

Despite battling through periods of sloppiness and an airtight Phoenix Coyotes defense, the Pens barely missed on a couple late chances to tie, dropping a 3-2 decision Tuesday night at Consol Energy Center.

The Penguins (46-21-5, 97 points) didn’t get many opportunities to draw even in the third period, but Sidney Crosby and James Neal had good looks in the final five minutes. Crosby whipped a bouncing rebound wide of Coyotes goalie Thomas Greiss, then Neal was denied on a setup from Crosby by the outstretched hand of defenseman Michael Stone.

But the game was lost earlier in the evening, as Phoenix connected once on the power play and another time just as a Penguins penalty ended. The second of those two was netted by Mikkel Boedker at 13:18 of the second period, the eventual game-winner. Pittsburgh, which has the second-best penalty-killing rate in the league, has allowed seven power-play goals in the past nine games.

The Pens remained two points shy of clinching their eighth straight playoff berth, but they battled back twice in the first period to tie the game. After David Moss put Phoenix (35-26-12, 82 points) ahead at 9:06 off an assist from Martin Hanzal, Jussi Jokinen completed a smooth setup from Neal with a power-play goal nearly three minutes later.

Jokinen’s goal bounced off a camera in the net and immediately popped out, so play continued for a few minutes afterward. Once the action stopped, the referees conferred with the video review system and confirmed the score.

Antoine Vermette put the visitors back on top with 5:13 to go in the first, poking a loose puck under Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury during the Coyotes’ first power play of the night. However, Pittsburgh equalized again with four seconds on the clock when Taylor Pyatt deflected Rob Scuderi‘s point shot through Greiss.

Pyatt’s goal was his first since January and just his third of the year, but the Penguins couldn’t get more contributions from depth players on the same day it was announced Evgeni Malkin will be out up to three weeks with a foot injury.

Boedker and Shane Doan recorded two points each, and seven total players got on the scoresheet for Phoenix, which outshot the Penguins 29-26.

Even with their backup goalie in net, the Coyotes stayed in the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot with the win.

BOX SCORE

Now on a 2-4-1 skid, the Penguins complete their four-game homestand Thursday night when the Los Angeles Kings pay a visit.

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Tags: James Neal Jussi Jokinen Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby

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