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game recap

Eric Staal sends Wild past Penguins

Forward scores tiebreaking goal, Devan Dubnyk makes 39 saves for Minnesota

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Minnesota Wild forward Eric Staal has had success against the Pittsburgh Penguins throughout his career, and that didn't change Thursday.

Staal scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period to help the Wild defeat the Penguins 4-2 at PPG Paints Arena.

 

WATCH: All Wild vs. Penguins highlights

 

He backhanded a shot past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to give Minnesota a 3-2 lead 2:56 into the third. Staal, who has 51 points in 50 games against the Penguins after the goal and two assists Thursday, scored one goal in his previous seven games.

"I've played them a lot," Staal said. "Been out east for a long time (primarily with the Carolina Hurricanes) and played these guys on many occasions. They've been on the right side of it a lot, and fortunately for me, it's a night where we got the better of them, but they're a good team. They have a great team every year. It's a challenge that I'm always excited to be a part of, and fortunately tonight I was on the right side of it."

Jason Pominville scored an empty-net goal to make it 4-2 with 30 seconds left.

Pittsburgh (9-3-2), which was outshot 44-41, lost in regulation for the first time in eight home games this season.

"It is a concern," Sullivan said. "I think it's hard to win consistently in this league if you're giving up 40-plus shots a game. Having said that, we got 40-plus shots in the game as well. But I don't think that's the type of game that we're trying to play."

Video: MIN@PIT: Niederreiter uses quick hands, roofs puck

Fleury made a season-high 40 saves. Devan Dubnyk also had a season-high with 39 saves for Minnesota (7-4-1).

After failing to score a point for the first time this season against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, Sidney Crosby gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead 7:53 into the first period. He deflected a slap pass from Phil Kessel on a power play for his Penguins-leading ninth goal in eight games since returning from a concussion that kept him out of the first six games.

The Wild tied it 1-1 on a power play with 1:51 remaining in the first period. Defenseman Ryan Suter sent a slap shot into traffic that Charlie Coyle tipped below Fleury's outstretched blocker arm for his fourth goal of the season.

After allowing two goals on 31 power plays entering Thursday, Minnesota's NHL-leading penalty kill surrendered a second goal on Pittsburgh's second chance. Patric Hornqvist scored to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead 7:33 into the second period after Dubnyk was called for delay of game.

Wild forward Nino Niederreiter tied the score 2-2 at 9:07. He went backhand-to-forehand to shoot under Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley's stick and over Fleury's right shoulder into the upper-left corner.

Video: MIN@PIT: Coyle nets PPG with wicked redirection

 

Goal of the game

Staal scored the tiebreaking goal after Penguins defenseman Kris Letang lost control of the puck behind the net before it slid out front. Coyle collected it as it drifted and shot off Fleury's left pad before Staal got to the rebound.

Video: MIN@PIT: Staal slams home rebound to take the lead

 

Save of the game

Wild forward Erik Haula had a chance to tie it 2-2 after Mike Reilly's shot went wide and bounced off the end boards. Haula collected the rebound near the right circle and took a wrist shot with Fleury out of position, but was denied when Fleury slid back to his left in time to make a save 8:17 into the second period.

Video: MIN@PIT: Fleury gets across to deny rebound chance

 

Highlight of the game

After Letang whiffed on an attempted slap shot from the point, Kessel retrieved the puck as Crosby slid away from the crease to Dubnyk's right. Kessel took a slap pass and Crosby angled his stick blade to send it past Dubnyk's blocker to put Pittsburgh ahead.

Video: MIN@PIT: Crosby deflects home PPG shortside

 

Unsung moment of the game

With the score tied 2-2, the Penguins failed to capitalize on momentum built from killing a 5-on-3 that lasted 1:15. The Wild had the advantage after defenseman Olli Maatta was called for tripping with 30 seconds remaining in the second period.

 

They said it

"We continued to get better as each minute went by in that game and it was a real big win for us." -- Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk

 

"This was a great challenge, going up against the Stanley Cup champions. … Once we settled down, a lot of good things happened. I thought we competed hard." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau

 

"It was a quick turnaround. Everything was under control for a second. They shot and then 'Bang' it was in. It's not what you expect." -- Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on Eric Staal's tiebreaking goal

 

Video: MIN@PIT: Dubnyk absorbs pressure on the penalty kill

 

Need to know

Fleury started after backing up goalie Matt Murray in Pittsburgh's previous two games. … Haula played after missing seven games with a lower-body injury. He centered the third line between left wing Jason Zucker and right wing Zack Mitchell.

 

What's next

Wild: At the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CSN-PH, FS-N+, NHL.TV)

Penguins: Host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, CITY, ROOT, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Wild pot four behind Dubnyk's 39 saves for 4-2 win

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