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Insider Only Game 18: Wild snap Penguins 6 game winning streak

Minnesota Wild 2 – Pittsburgh Penguins 1
The Minnesota Wild’s trapping defense frustrated the Penguins at times and the league’s top penalty kill unit held Evgeni Malkin & Co scoreless on the power play. The Penguins were 0-for-4 on the power play and failed to capitalize in overtime after Wild forward Brent Burns drew a high-sticking penalty with 1:28 remaining in the overtime period.
The Wild were able to force a shootout and goaltender Niklas Backstrom, put on a strong performance Tuesday night at Mellon Arena, stopping 24-of-25 shots, turning aside Petr Sykora, Alex Goligoski and Sidney Crosby in the shootout to the lead the Minnesota Wild to a 2-1 win. The loss snapped the Penguins 6 game winning streak.
At 7:57 of the first period Mikko Koivu was credited with the Wild’s lone goal in regulation after Penguins center Mike Zigomanis put the puck in his own net off of a fluke faceoff. Pittsburgh responded 10 seconds later when Matt cooke scored his second goal of the season with assists to Jordan Staal and Rob Scuderi. Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky scored the only goal in the shootout. Penguins backup goaltender Dany Sabourin filling in for the injured Marc Andre Fleury made 25 saves in the loss. Sidney Crosby is 0-4 in shootouts this season and 9-for-32 in his career.
Tonight was only the 6th time that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were held scoreless in the same game
Insider Post-Game Analysis

Tonight’s game went as expected. The Penguins were the better team but couldn’t get much past Backstrom who was solid. It seemed like a few times the Penguins were rushing their shots in the slot and that’s what happens against very good defensive teams. The Wild boast the top rated penalty kill (93.4%) and they did a very good job of pressuring the Penguins. The Penguins could not get in a rhythm and went 0-for-4 on the night.
Boucher makes immediate impact
Defenseman Phillipe Boucher made his Penguins debut and he logged 21:02 of ice time. I thought he was effective tonight and he appears to be a much better fit than Sydor. I was impressed with Boucher’s play in the defensive zone and his positioning was very good for the first time in the Penguins defensive system. Boucher tied Kris Letang for the team lead with 6 blocked shots tonight. People I’ve talked to say Boucher’s shoulder surgery has hindered his offensive ability but from what I saw tonight and in practice Monday, Boucher still has a dangerous shot from the point.
Staal on the rise (8 points in his last 5 games)
Jordan Staal continues to be a force on the ice since his breakout performance against the Detroit Red Wings last week. Staal is the key to the Penguins season and he is finding a comfort zone playing with Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy. Staal didn’t do a bad job tonight in one of his rare fights in his young career. What more can you say about Matt Cooke’s play. Cooke has been a great addition and has points in 5 straight games
Malkin becoming the Penguins Go-to-Player?
Evgeni Malkin continues to establish himself as one of the games best. Malkin is playing a strong leadership role on the ice and the Penguins are looking to him late in games.
A few Post Game Grades
D Brooks Orpik (B+) – Orpik was physical and played a sound defensive game
C Sidney Crosby (C+) – Crosby passed up too many shots late in the game
C Jordan Staal (A) – Staal recorded an assist, logged 21:14 minutes of ice, got into a fight and led the Penguins with 5 shots on goal. Enough said.
RW Miroslav Satan (D+) – Satan who leads the Penguins with 8 goals on the season has gone 5 games without a goal and failed to register a shot against the Wild.
Final Word:
The Penguins have received 13-out-of 14 points in their past 7 games. The Penguins blue line has the opportunity when healthy to be among the league’s best. When Ryan Whitney gets back into form he’s is going to resemble the player of two years ago not last season. Boucher is clearly a upgrade over Sydor and Eaton. The Penguins are set on the blue line but on the wings they are mediocre at best. Maybe the Penguins win with defense this year but as the deadline approaches Ray Shero is going to have to seriously consider unloading one of his talented blue liners for a top 6 winger.
Three Stars
1. G Niklas Backstrom (24 saves)
2. LW Matt Cooke (1 goal)
3. Mikko Koivu (1 goal)
Early indications are Marc Andre Fleury should return to the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks.
The Penguins will practice tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. Practice will be held at Mellon Arena

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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