NHL Game Summary - Pittsburgh at Minnesota
(Tuesday, October 18th)
Final Score: Pittsburgh 4, Minnesota 2
St. Paul, MN (Sports Network) - No Crosby, no Malkin, yet the Penguins are keeping their collective head above water.
Pascal Dupuis scored and added an assist, as Pittsburgh jumped out early and led throughout in a 4-2 victory over Minnesota at the Xcel Center.
James Neal, Chris Kunitz and Jordan Staal all scored and Matt Cooke added two assists for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game skid even without Evgeni Malkin (right knee), Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Tyler Kennedy (concussion). Brent Johnson got the start between the pipes, stopping 24-of-26 shots in the win.
"It's a simple thing, communication between myself and the defensemen, trying to simplify everything as much as possible. We played hard around the boards, tried to get it out as quick as we could," Johnson said when asked about the recipe for success.
Cal Clutterbuck and Guillaume Latendresse scored for the Wild, who have dropped five of six. Niklas Backstrom, who manned the net due in part to his perfect 3-0-0 lifetime record against Pittsburgh, stopped 21-of-25 shots in defeat.
"We came out a little flat tonight, and it is too bad. They are definitely a good team. You can't take anything away from them," said Minnesota's Greg Zanon
After a scoreless opening stanza, the Wild were caught in a line change when they turned it over in their own zone. A sloppy outlet pass was deflected against the left boards by Kunitz and corralled by Dupuis, who found a streaking Kunitz near the left faceoff circle for a one-timer that beat Backstrom just 46 seconds in.
Staal's third goal of the campaign came thanks to his patience and purpose in front of the net. A slap shot from above the right face-off circle by Zbynek Michalek was deflected off Backstrom's pads then Cooke's stick before eventually finding Staal, who controlled it on the backhand and stuffed it high and home for a power play tally.
Still on the power play, the Penguins, fishing for a third tally, got careless with the puck, leading to a 2-on-1 breakaway that Clutterbuck finished with a wrister high and to the glove side past Johnson with 11:53 left in the stanza.
Another turnover resulted in another scoring chance, this time with the roles reversed early in the third stanza. Neal swiped the puck near the right boards and skated to just above the faceoff circle, where he unleashed a snapshot that snuck short side through Backstrom's five hole.
Pittsburgh put the game on ice after another Minnesota miscue. On the power play, the Wild turned it over around the blue line, and Dupuis sprinted in on a breakaway and went to the backhand to flick the puck up and over a sprawling Backstrom with 7:39 remaining.
Minnesota got the goal back 51 seconds later as Latendresse chipped home his first tally of the season on a rebound off a shot by Matt Cullen.
Pittsburgh tallied its seventh power play goal of the season...Minnesota had won four straight in series...Pittsburgh is 2-3-1 in six trips to Minnesota...Minnesota defenseman Mike Lundin and forward Cody Almond didn't play due to back issues...The Wild finished 0-for-5 on the power play...Minnesota plays in Edmonton on Thursday, while Pittsburgh hosts Montreal that same day...Pittsburgh has killed 26 of its opponents' 27 power play chances...The Penguins also played without defenseman Brooks Orpik (lower-body injury) and wing Dustin Jeffrey (knee)...Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang missed the game after receiving a two-game suspension from the NHL for a boarding penalty in Monday's game at Winnipeg.
10/19 00:03:52 ET