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Aftermath: Wild 4, Penguins 3

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
Things looked good for the Penguins when they netted the game’s opening goal 3:44 into the first period on a Sidney Crosby deflection. They had been 17-4 when they struck first. However, the Minnesota Wild kept answering the Penguins and ended up walking away with a 4-3 victory.

All things considered the Penguins carried a majority of the action throughout the contest, outshooting the Wild by a wide margin for the second time in two meetings this season, 38-24, but two factors swayed the final outcome in Minnesota’s favor. First, the Penguins once again came up empty on the power play, going 0-for-6. Second, Niklas Backstrom made up for what might have been his worst performance of the season on Saturday against Chicago by stopping 35 of the 38 shots sent his way, including a game-saving glove stop on Evgeni Malkin with exactly six minutes remaining which would have tied the score, 4-4.

After a 4-1 victory over Toronto on Saturday and a decent showing tonight, the Penguins appear close to breaking out of their slump. They continue this five-game road swing with a visit to Western Canada to take on Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver – three cities where they went 3-0 on their last trip there in 2007-08.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Guillaume Latendresse scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period after getting a career-high three assists, giving the Minnesota Wild enough to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 on Monday night.

Sidney Crosby and Bill Guerin battle for the loose puck
(photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Traffic to the Net
When Niklas Backstrom is at the top of his game he stops everything he sees. The Penguins did a great job getting traffic in front of him and it lead directly to two goals. On the Penguins’ first goal both Pascal Dupuis and Sidney Crosby were able to deflect Mark Eaton’s point shot before it eluded the Finish backstop. Later in the game Crosby registered his second goal of the night when he deflected another Eaton shot behind Backstrom.

What Could Have Gone Better: Defending Guillaume Latendresse
Since being acquired from the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 23 Guillaume Latendresse has been an offensive force for the Wild. He displayed those talents once again to a national audience with a career-best four-point effort (1G-3A). Latendresse used his 6-foot-2 frame to dominate the puck both in the corners and from the front of the cage.
Pascal Dupuis began his NHL career with the Wild and on Monday night he reminded Minnesota fans what he brings when he is on the top of his game. Using his outstanding speed and powerful shot, Dupuis led the way for the Penguins with a goal and two assists. He saw 12:08 of ice time, registered two shots on goal and was a plus-2.

On the Penguins’ opening goal it was Dupuis who deflected a Mark Eaton point shot on the way through just before Sidney Crosby got a final stick on it to guide it over the line. Less than a minute into the second period Dupuis gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead when he fired a laser over the glove of Niklas Backstrom off a Bill Guerin setup.
Mark Eaton sent a shot from the left point towards the net that both Pascal Dupuis and Sidney Crosby deflected on the way through. Crosby got credit for the goal as the last player to deflect the puck just before it crossed the line. Pittsburgh 1, Minnesota 0.

Eric Belanger added his second goal against the Penguins this season when he skated the puck over the blue line and threw a bouncing puck towards Marc-Andre Fleury. The puck skipped off the ice and hopped over Fleury. Pittsburgh 1, Minnesota 1.

Bill Guerin jumped on a loose puck created when Minnesota missed the net at the opposite end of the ice. Guerin moved in towards the net and hit Dupuis wide open in the slot. Dupuis’ one-timer went over the glove of Backstrom into the top shelf. Pittsburgh 2, Minnesota 1.

Guillaume Latendresse and Martin Havlat played give-and-go as they broke into the Pittsburgh zone two-on-one. Havlat ended the sequence by tucking a shot just under the glove of Fleury. Pittsburgh 2, Minnesota 2.

Latendresse figured in on his third goal of the night when he spun off a Penguin in the near corner and threw a wrist shot towards the net. His shot deflected off the leg of Cal Clutterbuck standing just outside the crease and eluded Fleury for Minnesota’s first lead of the contest. Minnesota 3, Pittsburgh 2.

Early in the third period Crosby emerged from the far corner with the biscuit and he dished it back to Eaton at the left point. Eaton’s wrist shot was deflected again by Crosby behind Backstrom for his second two-goal effort in the past three games. Pittsburgh 3, Minnesota 3.

Nick Schultz sent a breakout pass through the neutral zone to Kyle Brodziak splitting in between the Penguins defense. Brodziak drove to the net and hit Latendresse standing just outside the crease for the tip-in goal which stood up as the game-winner. Minnesota 4, Pittsburgh 3.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik and goaltender Brent Johnson are listed as day-to-day with lower-body injuries. In their stead the Penguins recalled blueliner Ben Lovejoy and netminder John Curry from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Lovejoy, who spent eight games with Pittsburgh earlier in the season, saw 13:10 of ice time and registered three hits and one blocked shot. Curry, who played three games for the Penguins last season, served as the backup to Marc-Andre Fleury.

Defenseman Alex Goligoski, a Grand Rapids, Minn. native who played his college hockey at the University of Minnesota, returned to his home state for the first time in the NHL. Goligoski finished with two shots on goal and had three blocked shots in 21:05 of ice time.

Both teams saw their power plays come up empty when presented with glorious chances to score back-breaking goals. The Penguins were given 1:10 to work with a two-man advantage late in the first period but managed only one shot Niklas Backstrom’s way as they looked to break a 1-1 tie. Midway through the final frame Minnesota was the beneficiary of a five-minute major as a result of Sergei Gonchar’s interference penalty. The Penguins killed off all five minutes to keep the Wild’s lead at 4-3 coming down the stretch.
> Scoring Summary:
PIT, S. Crosby (28), 3:44 1st period: Penguins 1, Wild 0
MIN, E. Belanger (12), 11:40 1st period: Penguins 1, Wild 1
PIT, P. Dupuis (10), 0:54 2nd period: Penguins 2, Wild 1
MIN, M. Havlat (8), 1:45 2nd period: Penguins 2, Wild 2
MIN, C. Clutterbuck (9), 12:03 2nd period: Wild 3, Penguins 2
PIT, S. Crosby (29), 1:04 3rd period: Penguins 3, Wild 3
MIN, G. Latendresse (12), 3rd period: Wild 4, Penguins 3

> Despite the loss, which drops the Penguins’ overall record to 28-18-1 on the season, they continue to sit in the 4th spot in the Eastern Conference standings and their 28 wins are tied for third most in the NHL through Monday’s early games.

> Since head coach Dan Bylsma took over on Feb. 15, 2009 the Penguins are 46-21-5 with a 22-12-3 record on the road.

> The Penguins are now 1-1 on this season-long five-game road swing. After splitting road contests in Toronto and Minnesota the Penguins head to Calgary on Wednesday as they begin a three-game trek through Western Canada which also includes games at Edmonton on Thursday and Vancouver on Saturday.

> Sidney Crosby’s two goals give him 29 goals on the season, tying him with Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks for the league-lead. Crosby also picked up an assist on Pascal Dupuis’ goal to give him 56 points (29G-27A) to rank third in the scoring race, two points behind San Jose’s Joe Thornton and six points behind the Vancouver Canucks Henrik Sedin.

> Crosby’s three-point night gives him eight points (6G-2A) in his previous five games, including five goals over his past three games.

> Pascal Dupuis had another strong night against his former squad with a season-high three points (1G-2A). In two games against the Wild this season Dupuis led the Penguins with four points (2G-2A).

> Dupuis’ goal was his 10th of the season, making him the sixth Penguin to hit double figures in goals. The others: Sidney Crosby (29), Bill Guerin (14), Evgeni Malkin (13), Jordan Staal (13) and Mike Rupp (11).

> Mark Eaton’s two assists were a season high. He has now picked up three assists over his past two games.
1. G. Latendresse
2. N. Backstrom
3. S.Crosby
"It was fun to see my family and friends
at the game. I would
have preferred a win
but it was still fun."
- Alex Goligoski


Author: Jason Seidling

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