Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 6-2 loss against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.
*The turning point in the contest came with just under 30 seconds to play in the first period. The Pens gave up the game's first 2 goals, but actually carried the play in the latter half of the first period. Pittsburgh cut into the Minnesota lead with a goal and was carrying the momentum into intermission. That was until an errand Kris Letang pass ended up on the tape of Charlie Coyle in the circle. His shot beat Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Wild a 3-1 lead with just 22.2 seconds left in the opening frame. The Pens couldn't find a way to fight their way back into it in the following 40 minutes.
"I wasn't too worried when they scored early. I still believed we could manage our way back into the game," Fleury said. "That third one hurt at the end."
*The Pens went from a 5-2 loss to the Rangers to a 6-1 win against New York (and arguably their best game of the season) to a 6-2 loss to Minnesota. Most teams have ups and downs, but the Pens are on a dramatic rollercoaster. Right now, the team is trying to find a cure to its inconsistencies.
"It's hard for me to try to explain it," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "If I could (explain it) I could probably solve it. It's been something that's been part of our game for the first 20 games. We've talked about it a lot. ... Ultimately it is all of our responsibility to bring more consistency to our game."
*Phil Kessel's playmaking abilities are typically overshadowed by his elite goal-scoring prowess. However, his team-leading 15 assists (which are tied for 2nd in the entire NHL) show how good he is at passing the puck. But the Pens coaching staff have encouraged him to be greedy and shoot the puck more. He's shown more initiative to do just that. He has 11 shot attempts in the past 2 games and 2 goals to show for it.
*Fleury had a rough outing, although all of the blame can't fall on his shoulders. He surrendered 6 goals on 36 shots, but faced many shots of the high-quality variety. The Wild scored the game's opening goal just 40 seconds after puck drop, a very bad omen, and never looked back.
"We put (Fleury) in a tough spot," Sullivan said. "The goals they got were Grade-A scoring chances. The types of saves that he had to make were high quality. I thought we put him in a tough spot in a lot of the circumstances."
*Another solid game from the rookie Jake Guentzel. Although it's only his third in the NHL, he is showing himself to be a gifted and gritty player. It was his effort and battle along the end boards that led to Pittsburgh's first goal. He picked up an assist on the play, a nice token on for his first game against his hometown team.