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Penguins vs. Wild recap; Crosby comes to life, Pens win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins get a goal and assist from Sidney Crosby and a strong team effort to beat the Minnesota Wild 3-1.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

It's a win, it's a win, it's a win. The Penguins continue on a modest now 2 game winning streak in a very strong effort tonight against the Minnesota Wild.

The Goals

The Penguins dominated shots early in the game and finally struck the back of the net about 5 minutes into the 2nd period. After a rare miscue by Ryan Suter failing to play the puck, Sidney Crosby jumped on it and rocketed into the zone. Importantly, he follows up his initial shot (saved) and gets the puck back from David Perron and fires it by Devan Dubnyk.

The Pens would make it 2-0 on a nice play by the 4th line. After Matt Cullen iced the puck, Dubnyk elected not to play it, a miscue since his teammates weren't going to win the race. Kevin Porter throws a puck to the front that Eric Fehr gets a nifty little tip on for his 4th of the season.

Minnesota would finally show some life and score their first goal of the game, a nice pass from Thomas Vanek to get the puck to a streaking Jason Zucker who Brian Dumoulin could not catch up with.

Pittsburgh would answer the answer with a power play goal. Nice job by Letang to get the puck to the net, simple enough. Crosby and Patric Hornqvist converge on said net and slam it home. Not rocket science! 3-1 Pens after two periods.

That would be the last goal of the game. Jarret Stoll hit Letang up high in the 3rd on a scary play. Surprisingly/hopefully luckily Letang would return to the game a little later after getting checked out.

Some Thoughts

  • Great shorthanded chance in the first for Nick Bonino, all alone in the slot with the puck courtesy of some nice PK'ing work by Eric Fehr. Bonino's shot whistles just wide off the post. Sort of the story of his season.
  • In what really set the tone of the game, shots were 11-4 after 1 period, and Pittsburgh responded with 6 straight shots to open the 2nd period to make it 17-4. The Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - David Perron line spent extended time in the offensive zone but no dice until they got rewarded in the 2nd.
  • Kris Letang's first game since Dec 9 and he looked pretty seamless jumping back into the lineup prior to the Stoll hit. Pairing him with Olli Maatta looked to be a great reunion for two players who haven't gotten to play together too much of late between dueling injuries.
  • Per the incomparable Bob Grove, that was Hornqvist's first PPG in 51 games. That's almost unimaginable considering how much time he's gotten on the top unit, standing right in front of the net, but a testament to the troubles that group has had lately.
  • In addition to that goal, 6 SOG for Hornqvist and 9 total attempts. He was firing all night, and also chunked an open net opportunity thanks mainly to a bouncing puck. Still, a strong game from a player the Penguins need to drive more and he looked refreshed after the break.
  • Very strong game for Crosby, a goal, an assist, 3 shots on goal (with 8 total shot attempts) and a winner of 12-of-18 (67%) in the faceoff circle. Looked a lot like the old Sid and not the 2015-16 season version of Sid, which is a good thing.
  • In his first game on the Malkin line, Conor Sheary seems to have a good look to him. 2 shots on goal and 2 takeaways, nothing that jumps off the page, but the youngster just seems to be in the right places at the right times.
  • Quietly a 4/4 night for the PK. In particular Bonino and Fehr had great nights while the Pens were down a man. Seemed like they were able to keep the Wild from getting set up in the o-zone for big chunks of their power plays, always a plus.
  • Third start in a row for Matt Murray and a fine effort on his part, especially late when he made 14 third period stops and 22 saves in the final 2 periods in a 25/26 night for him. It's a shame the Pens play back-to-back again tomorrow because Murray shouldn't really yield the crease. He's been very steady.

The Pens are off to the 'Peg for another game tomorrow night, hopefully Letang is well and the team is able to continue to build on the momentum they seem to be building, now with 9 straight games of out-shooting the opponents.