1. After sweeping the Penguins in the regular season last year, Minnesota continued its mastery of the defending Stanley Cup champions on Saturday.
Without Zach Parise, Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle, the Wild had to go about doing it very differently. While the Wild scored 10 goals in two wins last season, Minnesota mustered just two on Saturday. But this time, two was enough.
Pittsburgh took advantage of a couple of fortuitous bounces on a power-play goal credited to Evgeni Malkin almost 12 minutes into the game. His shot deflected off the stick of Luke Kunin, then off Kyle Quincey and past Devan Dubnyk for an early 1-0 lead.
But less than two minutes later, Daniel Winnik got the Wild back even with a nifty move around goaltender Matt Murray.
Video: PIT@MIN: Winnik buries rebound after sweet deke
That was it for the scoring until Mike Reilly and Mikko Koivu hooked up for a pretty re-direction with just under 11 minutes to play.
"I think you need the full team effort against a team like they are. You gotta be good defensively, you gotta be able to challenge them offensively as well," Koivu said. "You need good goaltending and we had that tonight. It's always a big challenge, you want to get up and you recognize that and for sure it gives us confidence moving forward."
In gaining the victory, the Wild won back-to-back games for the first time this season and moved also moved north of the .500 mark.
"We have to start somewhere," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It was playing Pittsburgh last year that started us to play like we're capable of playing on a nightly basis. It was a much needed win."
2. Koivu and Reilly worked together beautifully on the game-winning goal in the third period.
The play started on a nice play by Jason Zucker along the left half wall. He worked the puck back to Kyle Quincey at the left point, who fired a D-to-D pass to Reilly.
With some time and space, Reilly looked up, found the friendly stick of Koivu and fired the puck at it, hoping for the re-direction. The Wild's captain provided it, fooling Murray with a shot that went five hole.
Video: PIT@MIN: Koivu deflects one home from the slot
"Great vision and a good, hard shot [by Reilly]," Koivu said. "I just tried to get my stick in between and I did."
For Reilly, it was his fourth point in seven games (all assists) and first even-strength point of the campaign. He entered the season with six assists and eight points in 46 career NHL games.
Video: Locker Room Postgame vs Pittsburgh
"I think that's such a dangerous play," Reilly said. "It's hard for the goalie to react on that. I just tried to find the stick and I did and [Koivu] made a great play on it."
The game-winning goal served as a fine reward for Koivu, whose line was outstanding against the John Tavares line in a win Thursday against the New York Islanders. On Saturday, the Koivu line was tasked with slowing the Penguins' top line, specifically Sidney Crosby.
Crosby was held completely off the scoresheet and was a minus-1 on the night.
Video: Bruce Boudreau Postgame vs Penguins
"He was really good. You know he takes challenges. He was against Crosby all night long and I thought he did a tremendous job," Boudreau said. "It gets him going when we challenge him with things like this. He took it as a challenge and he went out and did a great job at it."
3. Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves in perhaps his finest outing of the young season.
After an admittedly slow start to the 2017-18 season, Dubnyk has been on point in two of the past three games. Even his stat line on Thursday against the Islanders was spoiled by a couple of late goals, including one in the final two seconds of regulation with the game well out of hand.
Video: PIT@MIN: Dubnyk slams the door with pad, glove
"I've started to feel better the last few games. Obviously, there were a couple goals last game that weren't great, but as the overall game went I felt good and I just felt like myself tonight," Dubnyk said. "I was good on my edges and being patient. When you're presented with a challenge like that team you don't really have much of a choice."
Backup goalie Alex Stalock has been stellar in two starts this season, earning a 4-2 win in Calgary his last time out. Even after allowing four goals against New York, Boudreau said he didn't give a second thought to coming back with Dubnyk on Saturday.
"He's our guy. He did a lot of good things in the last couple games that he's played and hasn't been rewarded," Boudreau said. "He's our guy and we knew he was getting better and better. So in a big game, who are you going to go to? You're going to go to your No. 1 goalie."
Stalock has earned a start in the next few games, but the Wild will be better off if it has two goaltenders pushing each other over the course of the entire season.
"It's been a strange start to the season, but if you look at the last stretch of games here we're really starting to see the way we need to play to win and it's happening," Dubnyk said.
• After the game, the Wild assigned Joel Eriksson Ek, Luke Kunin and Zack Mitchell to Iowa of the American Hockey League.
• Matt Cullen, playing in his first game against his former club, tallied an assist on Winnik's goal.
• Defensemen Jared Spurgeon and Kyle Quincey also had assists on Saturday. Quincey was a plus-2.
• Murray finished with 27 saves.
• Kris Letang and Phil Kessel had helpers on Malkin's power-play goal.
• Koivu led all shooters with six shots on goal.
• Attendance: 19,064
He Said It
"It's really good, two really good teams in the [Metropolitan] Division, and I thought Wednesday or Thursday the start of our game against the Islanders was great. It got a little sloppy once the score starts getting up there. Today in a low scoring game, I thought we really dug deep and some guys played their best hockey." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau on his team's response the past two games following a disappointing start to the homestand against Vancouver
They Said It
"I don't think we're good enough five-on-five right now. We tend to be one and done in the offensive zone, and we're not getting to the net enough, we're not winning enough loose puck battles and as a result we're not spending enough time there." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan
* Mikko Koivu
** Devan Dubnyk
*** Jared Spurgeon