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Greiss gets win for Penguins against Wild

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston threw a curveball Tuesday when he decided to start backup goaltender Thomas Greiss against the Minnesota Wild.

Greiss rewarded his coach's move by making 33 saves to help the Penguins to a 4-1 win at Xcel Energy Center.

Though Marc-Andre Fleury was riding a two-game shutout streak, Johnston decided to go with Greiss, who hadn't played since an Oct. 23 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Fleury is 0-5-0 in five career starts against the Wild.

Greiss appeared on his way to a shutout of his own before allowing a shorthanded goal to Nino Niederreiter with 9:18 remaining. The goal ended the Penguins' shutout streak at 205:28. It also snapped a streak of 18 unanswered goals scored by Pittsburgh, the longest streak in the NHL since 2000-01.

It was the first win for Greiss with the Penguins, who signed him as a free agent on July 1.

"It just feels good to get the win," Greiss said. "I didn't feel too sharp. There were a bunch of rebounds out there I wasn't happy with, some small things."

The Penguins scored late in the first period when a turnover by the Wild in their zone ended up on the stick of Steve Downie, who passed to Nick Spaling at the left faceoff dot. Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper, fighting a screen in front, was out of position, and Spaling lifted his second goal of the season into an open net at 19:06.

"[Downie] created something out of a broken play," Spaling said. "He gave me a pretty open shot there."

Pittsburgh's third line scored again 2:08 into the second period when Brandon Sutter capped a 2-on-1 break by beating Kuemper for his third of the season.

"The start was not good enough for us," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "It's not like we were bad. It's not like they were dominating us. We weren't on top of our game, but we had a tough time really building any momentum and things just kind of started to unravel because of our execution."

It took 12 seconds for the Penguins to score on their first power play of the game. Chris Kunitz made it 3-0 at 15:33. Evgeni Malkin assisted on the goal and has at least one point in all 11 games this season.

Pittsburgh went 1-for-3 on the power play Tuesday and is a League-best 41.3 percent with the man advantage this season.

"Teams are intimidated to take penalties against us now," Johnston said. "Our power play is the best deterrent we have out there. They want to be careful on us, and as a result, you get a little bit more space, you get a little bit more opportunities to take pucks to the net."

Minnesota appeared to make it 3-2 with 3:06 left when Mikko Koivu chipped a loose puck that replays showed went over the goal line. But referee Francois St. Laurent waved off the goal, informing the NHL Situation Room in Toronto that Wild forward Mikael Granlund had made incidental contact with Greiss in the crease prior to the puck crossing the goal line. This play is not reviewable.

"It's frustrating when you think you have a chance there and you look up and obviously, you see the puck go in and you think you're back in the game," Wild forward Jason Pominville said. "Ends up being called the other way around. It was tough for everyone."

A clearly frustrated Yeo refused comment on the play afterwards.

"It is what it is," he said. "I'm not going to get into it."

Patric Hornqvist scored an empty-net goal with 1:34 remaining.

Minnesota played the third period without forward Zach Parise, who did not return to the bench after the second intermission. Yeo said Parise sustained an upper-body injury but did not have an indication on the severity. He indicated an update on Parise would come Wednesday before the team departs for a three-game road trip beginning Thursday at the Ottawa Senators.

Kuemper made 19 saves for the Wild, who lost their first game on home ice this season.

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