|Pens look to squash mini-slump in Arizona|
On some level Friday when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena, both teams will have a third club on their minds.
The Coyotes are coming off a feel-good win Wednesday. The Penguins are frustrated over a loss Tuesday. Both games were against the San Jose Sharks.
Arizona (21-22-3, 45 points) hopes to feed off a 6-3 win that ended the Sharks' seven-game winning streak.
"I don't think there were any passengers; I think everybody did something to for us to win the game," Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet told reporters following the game.
Arizona has won four of its past five games and is within realistic reach of a playoff spot despite a plethora of injuries.
"That doesn't mean we can stop working," Arizona forward Christian Fischer said. "We need all the points we can get. We just have to keep going. ... We have Pittsburgh coming up here, another really good team."
Before their win over San Jose, the Coyotes turned in their first stinker of 2019, a 7-1 loss in Calgary. The bounce-back against San Jose was aided by a selective memory.
"I have to give the players a lot of credit," Tocchet said. "We have short memories, work hard in practice; stick with the game plan."
While moving on from games -- win or lose -- has been a point of emphasis for the Coyotes, they are hoping to remember enough strong things from the Sharks game to incorporate them against Pittsburgh ... but without relaxing.
"I'm not a roller-coaster guy," Tocchet said. "It's a great win. I'm proud of the guys ... (but) we've got another good team coming into our building Friday night."
One that has a bit of an edge to it right now.
Asked where his team came up short in competing with the Sharks in a 5-2 loss Tuesday, Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan was succinct, even terse.
"All over the rink," he told reporters.
The Penguins (25-15-6, 56 points) have lost two straight but aren't exactly in a funk -- so far. They won 10 of 11 games before the two losses.
Nonetheless, the loss at San Jose sticks in their craw.
"I thought we got outplayed," Sullivan said. "We got outplayed in every area of the rink. We weren't good enough. I know we're better than that. I know we're capable of being a much better team."
In particular, the Penguins were outmatched in front of the net and in puck battles.
A two-game slide in the midst of a five-game Western road trip probably won't hold up as a season-killer, but Pittsburgh went through some difficult stretches earlier, particularly in November, and at one point dropped briefly into last place in the Eastern Conference.
The Penguins' recent surge had them knocking on the door of first place in the Metropolitan Division, but with things as tight as they are in the Eastern Conference, the two-game losing streak dropped them into a wild-card spot.
They don't want to move in the wrong direction again for an extended length of time.
"We've worked so hard to put ourselves into a good place," veteran forward Matt Cullen recently told The Athletic. "But we can't have efforts like (the one against San Jose). It's not good enough. We can't afford to play as though we've accomplished anything yet, because we really haven't."
--Field Level Media