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Goals Gone Wild: Pens Slap Around Wild, 7-2 (Recap)

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The Penguins put a touchdown on the slumping Wild but lost Steve Downie after a fantastic elbow by Ryan Suter in the second period.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Sidney Crosby collected three assists, David Perron nabbed two goals and a helper and the Penguins buried Nicklas Backstrom and the Minnesota Wild by a 7-2 final Tuesday night at Consol.

Marcel Goc, Brandon Sutter, Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin and Kris Letang also scored for the Penguins, who kept pace with the New York Islanders (who shut out the Rangers earlier in the evening) ahead of a first-place-up-for-grabs meeting this Friday.

The win makes it two straight for the Penguins, who have been searching hard for consistency while getting some of their many injured back into the lineup.

That run of good luck might be tested again. Steve Downie left the game midway through the second after receiving an elbow to the jaw from Wild defenseman Ryan Suter.

Going to be hard to parse that one as anything but attempt to injure, but we've all been let down before.

Downie didn't return to the game, and the Penguins didn't exactly return the favor. The play wasn't called a penalty, and the Wild scored shortly afterward to cut the lead to 2-1.

If the favor wasn't returned in the fashion some would have cared for, it didn't go unanswered altogether.

Suter wasn't subjected to any facewashing, big hits or any other "we're after you" theatrics that usually accompany such hits. But he did finish his night with $11 million in salary obligations this year and a minus-4 rating on a night which probably just about sealed the fate of head coach Mike Yeo, despite the list of things wrong with this team being so, so, so much longer than who's behind the bench. So revenge comes in all forms, one supposes.

Garbage aside, Pittsburgh had to be pleased to score more than two goals for the first time in four games. The Pens had collected just five goals in their last three games, going 1-1-1 over that span. The seven-spot against the Wild marks their second-highest total of the season (they put 8 on the Devils in the first month of the season).

Some jargon:

- David Perron seems to be fitting in really, really well. He could have been forgiven needing time to adjust. Crosby's not the easiest center to play with and line combos have been chaos theory of late, given the injuries. Perron netted goals 2 and 3 with the Pens Tuesday, both the kind of quick-release, handsy plays you expect from a top-line winger. That he moved from left wing to right to accommodate Kunitz on that top line can't go unnoticed, either.

- Sutter scores on the Sutter Play again, his ninth of the year. His offense isn't overwhelming, just timely. Sutter's goal moved the score to 4-1 early in the third and not long after the Pens had to kill an early minor against Robert Bortuzzo. Kind of put the whole thing on ice, if it was ever going to be a question. For someone tasked with defensive assignments and not-good linemates, Sutter seems to get open on breakaways more than anyone on the team.

- Speaking of breakaways, Kris Letang had one as well. It was stopped, but he potted a silky goal late in the third to make it 6-1. Letang may never get Norris consideration, as that's apparently a club you have to punch your card to early in your career. But there's probably no other defenseman in the game with the hands he has.

- After the game, the Pens confirmed what we all kind of saw coming. Olli Maatta is done for the year and will have surgery on his shoulder, the same one that underwent a procedure last offseason. Not good news for a defenseman, but at least there's no rush to recover. What a voodoo year for the kid.

- A few firsts. Zach Sill gets his first NHL point, assisting on Marcel Goc's opening tally. Marc-Andre Fleury gets his first win against the Wild, the last NHL franchise he had yet to beat in his career. Aside from the Penguins, obviously.

Islanders on Friday.

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