Pittsburgh’s power play came up with a pair of huge goals on Monday at PPG Paints Arena, with the second - scored by Sidney Crosby - standing as the game-winner in a 4-3 victory over Minnesota.

The Penguins man-advantage unit has roared to life after a cold streak that lasted for about a month, scoring six times over the past four games. 

“It feels good. It’s something that we’ve been working on, and it’s been a focal point here for a while,” Crosby said. “To see it be a difference maker, and be the difference tonight - I think special teams are always big, but hopefully it’s a big confidence boost the way it’s been going for us.”

After building a 1-0 lead in the first period, Pittsburgh opened the second with 43 seconds of 5-on-4 play, and cashed in when Jake Guentzel deflected an Erik Karlsson slapshot past Wild goalie Filip Gustavsson. He got the start in the first game of Minnesota’s back-to-back set, with Marc-Andre Fleury scheduled to get the nod Tuesday night versus Boston.

Fleury plans to make a decision in regards to his retirement once the season is over. He acknowledged that while he’s thought about the possibility of this being his last game in Pittsburgh, Fleury didn’t want to make a big deal about it, and just try to enjoy the day. The fans cheered for their beloved Flower after each goal surrendered by Minnesota, with the “WE WANT FLEURY!” getting louder each time.

“It's always been special for me, coming to Pittsburgh,” Fleury said. “Obviously, spent a lot of time here, and people have always been very welcoming every time I come back to town. Always fun coming back. So many great memories when I come back, at the hotel, in the city walking around and stuff in the building.”

After earning the primary assist on Reilly Smith’s tally that opened the scoring, Valtteri Puustinen slid the puck to Evgeni Malkin during a 2-on-1 rush, who had a wide-open net for his 11th goal of the season. Puustinen has been impressive since getting recalled, with the 24-year-old forward making the most of his opportunities to play in the top-six and on the top power-play unit.

Tonight marked the first multi-point outing of the 2019 seventh-round pick’s career, in just his sixth NHL game, with Puustinen saying he feels better and more comfortable every day.

"All the guys here know my English is not the best, but guys don't care. They talk to me, and it's funny if I don't talk in perfect English,” he said.

After falling into a three-goal hole, Minnesota scored twice in quick succession in the final five minutes of the second before tying the game early in the third period. But 47 seconds later, 87 got the lead back. Crosby stuffed in a loose puck from the blue paint for his 18th of the year.

“They scored, we came back and got the next one. It was a good response, and we'll just try to keep building here,” Crosby said.

The captain reiterated how important confidence has been for the power play.

“We’re playing a little bit more instead of thinking. We knew once we get a couple that that would start to happen,” he said. “It's pretty natural, but it's tough when you go that long without scoring, it's kind of human nature to squeeze the stick a bit. I think now, we're playing a little bit more, which is nice.” 

Pittsburgh improves to 14-13-3 (31 points), while the loss drops the Wild to 12-13-4 (28 points). This was only their third loss in 10 games under Interim Head Coach John Hynes.

“We played a great night,” said goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic. “We played a pretty complete game overall and it’s easy to feel good about yourself.”

Here’s what another former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach had to say about the game:

What did you guys do to regroup after Saturday’s 7-0 loss to Toronto? "I wouldn't say there were a lot of conversations. There were a couple of candid ones. As I said to you guys after the game, we're in this thing together. The coaches and the players, and there's a partnership there. We've got to figure it out. We’ve got to do our part as a coaching staff to bring some solutions to the table, and we're working extremely hard to do that. We're trying to put the players in positions to be successful. We're trying to give them a real good understanding of what Penguins hockey looks like, and when we play it, we could be a real competitive team. We’ve just got to play it more consistently and then we've got to hold one another accountable to it. So, there were a couple of conversations with the group but what I'll tell you is I think we have terrific leadership, I think we have a veteran team. No one likes to go through that experience we went through in Toronto. That's a humbling experience for all of us and I was pleased that we responded the right way."

How have you felt about Puustinen’s game? "I think he's been really good. He's an eager, enthusiastic learner, and so, he's gonna get better with every game. He's gonna get better with each experience that he goes through. He's a smart player, he has aptitude for the game, you can see it in the decisions he makes with the puck. He's a really smart player, but his enthusiasm to learn is what really excites us about it. Because of that, I think he's going to get better quickly. The mistakes that he does make are usually mistakes of enthusiasm, because he's trying to win a puck battle or whatever. I think he's got a lot of aptitude for the game, and I think he'll get better with every experience that he goes through, and it's our job as a staff to help him along the way. I think his energy and quite frankly, just his overall performance for us has been really good."

How much does the connection that Fleury had built with the fan base here resonate as one of the memories from those Cups runs?: "It resonates. He’s a popular guy. He’s a popular guy with his teammates and his coaches; he was a very popular guy with the fan base here in Pittsburgh. I think Flower’s body work speaks for itself. He’s a Hall of Famer in my book. He was such a huge part of the core here that built that tradition of excellence that exists today. I think they inherited a tradition of excellence from Mario's days, but I think that group took a lot of pride in it, and Flower’s a big part of that. So, I think he has a lot of fond memories here. But I think his personality is just … he's such an enthusiastic guy. He has a lot of passion for the game. He has a zest for life, I think. It's hard not to smile when you're around him. I think everybody sees that, the fans included. When you’re around him, it's hard not to have a warm feeling. That's the type of guy that he is. The other aspect of his personality is he's a fierce competitor on top of it. So, I think that combination certainly is why I think the fan base here in Pittsburgh really appreciates him, and deservedly so. He's a terrific person, and he's had a tremendous career to this point."