Following Wild games, Content Coordinator Evan Sporer will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at the Wild's 4-3 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center. PITTSBURGH – FIRST TAKEAWAY
Jason Pominville continues to make strong plays in the offensive zone, and his line with Thomas Vanek and Mikael Granlund continues to find chemistry.
Granlund scored on Tuesday, his second goal of the season (VIDEO)
, after Vanek made a heady play on the wall to poke the puck up to Pominville. Surveying the offensive zone from below the goal line, Pominville picked out Granlund, who found some open space in the left circle, and then ripped home a shot to the low-blocker side.
Those kinds of plays, where Granlund can find a soft spot, are the product of the line gaining chemistry. They're playing off each other with more continuity, which can be seen in how synced their zone entries are, and the zone time they're able to generate by stringing passes together.
The minutes before Granlund's goal consisted of a few good shifts by the Wild's third and fourth lines, and some effective play by the two forwards recalled from Iowa.
Michael Keranen made his NHL debut on Tuesday on a line that Head Coach Mike Yeo said would give Keranen a chance to show what he can bring in the NHL. Playing with Charlie Coyle and Jordan Schroeder, Keranen was in a role where his skill could mesh with other skill forwards.
That line, as well as the Wild's fourth line of Brett Bulmer, Chris Porter, and Ryan Carter, was able to generate an effective forecheck. They did a good job of quickly getting on top of the Penguins defense, and forcing Pittsburgh to throw the puck from below the circles to the Wild's defense.
The Wild has tinkered with some different power play configurations amid losing players to injuries and other reasons, and Charlie Coyle, who has been off-and-on the power play, made a crucial play to set up on a five-on-four goal.
Coyle skated behind the net and jumped into a two-on-one scrum the Wild was on the wrong side of. Winning the puck back, Coyle backhanded a bank pass off the boards and onto the tape of Matt Dumba. With the Penguins having collapsed down low that kind of play is always going to buy some space near the blue line.
Dumba advanced the good sequence, walking the puck across the blue line, and creating a new angle for Jared Spurgeon, who one-timed Dumba's pass into the top corner.
Speaking of that power play, as the Wild chipped into Pittsburgh's three-goal lead beginning in the second period, Minnesota took advantage of its power play opportunities, a good formula to erasing a multi-goal deficit.
It was Spurgeon first (VIDEO), and then the Wild scored its first five-on-three goal of the season when Granlund found Mikko Koivu in the low slot for a one-timer. Koivu now has a point in 14 of Minnesota's 17 games this season, and leads the Wild with 16 points.
The Wild shored things up at even-strength after falling behind by three, and then nearly rode its power play to another dramatic comeback.
In its fifth game without Zach Parise, the Wild failed to come away with a point for only the first time.
Add in Minnesota has been without forwards Justin Fontaine and Tyler Graovac for an extended period, and were without the services of Erik Haula on Tuesday, and, as Yeo said, a game against the Penguins with a full complement of players is a tough enough one.
Still, the Wild's ability to rally to a 3-0-1 record in its first four games without its then-leading goal scorer Parise was encouraging.