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Pens/Wild Recap: Red hot Rust. Pittsburgh wins 2-1

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Another day, another win for the Pittsburgh Penguins

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Lineups

Welcome back Dominik Simon!

First period

Great shot from Jordan Greenway opens the scoring. Looks like Casey DeSmith might be a hair off his angle and not prepared to defend the upper part of the net, but this is a high velocity shot ticketed for a small window. 1-0 Wild.

The Pens strike back, Devan Dubnyk makes a Jimbo and throws the puck right to Jake Guentzel. Guentzel is a Minnesota boy, but not a Minnesota Wild so that’s bad for the goalie. Guentzel passed out for an easy tap in, and there’s that man again, Bryan Rust. The goals just keep piling up for Rust after being so cold for so long. 1-1 game.

Shots end up 17-14 MIN in the first period.

Second period

Not much is going on...I mean the Wild don’t even register a shot on goal for the first 9:05 of the period, and the Pens don’t do too much more. No penalties, the game is just kind of ticking on.

Finally Evgeni Malkin knocks the stick out of an opponent’s hand and takes a penalty so MIN gets their first power play of the game. But the Pittsburgh PK hold strong and keeps the game tied.

Shots 11-10 Pens in the period.

Third period

More boredom, Pittsburgh gets a power play but again frustration is the name of the game.

Then, out of nowhere, another Minny turnover leads to Guentzel finding Rust again and bing, bang, boom out of no where the Pens score again off Rust’s stick. 2-1 game with 11:48 left.

Game chugs along, Juuso Riikola goes to the box for a minor penalty with 3:37 left and the game in the balance. The Pens hold strong for 1:37 but the Minny somehow ends up with 7 skaters on the ice. They pulled their goalie so 6 would have been fine, but not 7.

And that pretty much does it. Another day, another win for the Pittsburgh hockey Penguins.

Some Thoughts

  • 10, 15, 20 games ago Bryan Rust couldn’t score a goal if his life depended on it. Now he’s up to eight tucks in the last six games. Gotta love this game.
  • Not sure if Guentzel called for Dubnyk to pass him the puck on the first Pittsburgh goal or it was just an ill-advised, blind pass or what.
  • It didn’t amount to much, but Matt Cullen (3 SOG, 1 hit, 56% faceoff night) was digging in this one. His stint last year with the Wild wasn’t a pleasant one and it looked like he had some jump in his step, including a breakaway in from the blue line to try and show his old team they didn’t use him right last year.
  • Great effort and positioning in the 3rd period by Tanner Pearson to get back and lift the stick of Charlie Coyle, preventing a really good scoring chance. Pearson has impressed making a lot of plays away from the puck, and especially with getting back on defense and helping break up chances on the rush. If you watch him closely every game it seems like this is a regular occurrence.
  • Be it DeSmith or Matt Murray, the goaltending in the past 1-2+ weeks has been really, really good for Pittsburgh. No matter the netminder, the consistency has been there as of late to keep the puck out of the net. Tonight is was DeSmith who again was sharp, as he has been for the majority of his starts.
  • Wonder when the last time this franchise has won two straight 2-1 games? Probably not very often, especially on consecutive days like this. But that’s a good thing to buckle down and get a good team effort from top to bottom and escape with some good, hard-fought, close wins.
  • Got a feeling the power play shows up on the negative side of Gretz’s column here tomorrow. The Pens’ PP has been pretty lackluster and uninspiring of late....But, on the bright side, at least they’re not giving up goals like earlier in the season? Gotta cling to something, I suppose..
  • A night after a 32:22 TOI game, Kris Letang is “down” to 26:37. Next highest on the team? Barely above 21 (Brian Dumoulin, natch). The other three dmen? 18, 17 and 16 minutes. Kris Letang is a cheat code for the coaches.

Feels good to win two in a row, four out of the last five, and six out of the last eight and get a little positive momentum rolling here as the team is relatively healthy and finding ways to win and getting some great goaltending. One more game on Saturday against a slumping Carolina team before a well-earned four day holiday break.