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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Pittsburgh

Minnesota enters off first home victory of season

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com
The essentials

Who: Pittsburgh Penguins at Minnesota Wild 

Puck drop: 7:08 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North, FOX Sports GO

Listen: KOOL 108 (107.9 FM), Wild Radio Network, Wild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter


The opponent

Since a pair of losses to open the season -- including a 10-1 defeat against the Chicago Blackhawks in game two -- the Pittsburgh Penguins have rattled off victories in seven of their past nine games, including wins in every game not against the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning.

Saturday's contest comes in the midst of a brutal stretch of games for the Penguins, who begin a five-game road trip at Xcel Energy Center. It continues Sunday in Winnipeg before extending to Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver next Saturday. 

They're in the middle of a stretch in which 12 of 16 games take place away from PPG Paints Arena.

Pittsburgh is coming off a pair of home contests, however, earning matching 2-1 overtime wins over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday and the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. Phil Kessel scored the overtime winner both nights and is tied with Sidney Crosby for the team lead with 11 points.

Crosby and Connor Sheary each pace the two-time defending champs with five goals apiece, while Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust have each chipped in eight assists.

Goaltender Matt Murray has yet to lose a game in regulation this season, going 7-0-1 in eight starts. His 2.81 goals-against average and .912 save percentage are inflated because of a rough relief outing in the blowout loss to Chicago.

Video: Wild looks toward facing Penguins


Connections 

• Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher spent three seasons (2006-09) with the Penguins as assistant general manager.

• Wild forward Matt Cullen collected 63 points (29-34=63) in 154 games and won back-to-back Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh (2015-17).

• Penguins forward Jake Guentzel is from Woodbury and played high school hockey at Hill-Murray. 

• Kessel played one season for the University of Minnesota (2005-06).


Turning the tide?

Minnesota's season sweep over Pittsburgh last year was the first time the Wild swept the Penguins in a single season since 2009-10. The Wild's 4-2 win on Nov. 10, 2016 was the first victory against the Penguins in more than two years. Minnesota is 3-6-0, however, in its past nine meetings against the Penguins after going 9-2-1 in the first 12 meetings.

Video: Wild Pregame vs Pittsburgh

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