(SportsNetwork.com) - Goals and wins have not been easy to come by lately for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the club hopes to find both on Saturday night when it visits the lowly Arizona Coyotes.
Pittsburgh has matched its worst losing streak of the season with four consecutive defeats, but the current slide marks the Pens' longest stretch of regulation losses in 2014-15.
The Pens have scored only two goals during the skid and have been outscored 11-2 over the four losses. Pittsburgh has played the last three games without Evgeni Malkin and fellow forward Patric Hornqvist has missed the last two. Both players are expected to sit out another tilt on Saturday when the club caps a three-game road trip.
Malkin is second to Sidney Crosby on the club with 68 points. Hornqvist is tied with Crosby for the team lead in goals (23) and is fourth on the club with 45 points.
Pittsburgh last played on Thursday when it was handed a 2-1 loss by the Dallas Stars, who received both of their goals during an 83-second span in the second period.
Brett Ritchie opened the scoring at 2:14 of the second and Jamie Benn scored at the 3:37 mark to make it a 2-0 game. The Pens notched their only goal later in the period when Kris Letang scored on the power play with 6:34 left.
Marc-Andre Fleury gave up two goals on 26 shots for the Penguins, who haven't lost five straight since an 0-6-0 drought from Dec. 29, 2011-Jan. 11, 2012.
Pittsburgh enters Saturday tied with the Washington Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan Division, where both clubs sit two points behind the New York Islanders. The Pens hold the tiebreaker over Washington at the moment due to having played one fewer game. The Caps visit Winnipeg today, while the Isles are on the road against New Jersey.
The Pens are 18-10-7 as the road team this season and have lost two of their last three games in Arizona. The Coyotes have won two straight and four of seven overall in this matchup.
The Coyotes have lost six straight (0-5-1) and 16 of their last 17 games. The current slide has knocked them into last place in the Western Conference, where they sit one point behind Edmonton with 50 points. Only Buffalo has fewer points in the NHL this season with 47.
Arizona's last four setbacks have come in regulation, including Thursday's 5-2 loss against Colorado in the opener of a three-game homestand.
The Coyotes scored first, but the Avalanche led 2-1 after the first period and never allowed the home team to draw even after that. It was the fifth straight home loss for Arizona, which owns a dismal 10-21-5 record at Gila River Arena this season.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson netted both goals for the Coyotes, while Louis Domingue allowed four goals on 28 shots in the loss. Ekman-Larsson snapped a 13-game goal drought dating back to Feb. 16 against Colorado, and his 19 goals leads all NHL defensemen
"I thought we did some good things in the offensive zone. I thought our defending and puck errors were an issue tonight," said Arizona head coach Dave Tippett.
Coyotes forward Martin Erat suffered an upper-body injury in the second period and did not return. He is questionable for this evening's game.
Arizona will play the final test of this homestand tomorrow against Vancouver.