Minnesota 4 – Pittsburgh 3
Pittsburgh lost for only the fifth time in 22 games when scoring first as Wild forward Guillaume Latendresse scored the go-ahead goal at 6:13 of third period and added a career-high three assists, leading the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins Monday night.
Pittsburgh struck first as Sidney Crosby opened the scoring at 3:44 of the first period. Crosby deflected a shot past Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom for his 28th goal of the season and would later add his 29 goal of the season later in the game.
Pittsburgh got a dominant performance from their top line of Pascal Dupuis, Sidney Crosby and Bill Guerin, contributing on all three Penguin goals.
Tied 1-1 at the start of the second period, Pittsburgh went up 2-1 on a Pascal Dupuis goal, just 54 seconds into the period.
The Wild had a breakdown in the defensive zone and Bill Guerin showed great patience making a nifty pass on a 2-on-2 situation as Dupuis netted his 10th goal of the season.
Dupuis would finish the night with a goal and an assist in his first game in Minnesota since being traded to the New York Rangers.
Minnesota showed the ability to respond and quickly answered as Martin Havlat scored 49 seconds later and Cal Clutterbuck scored mid-way through the second to put the Wild up 3-2.
In the third period, it was Sidney Crosby who would haunt the Wild again as Crosby scored his second goal of the game, just a 1:04 into the third period on what was another deflection goal.
Crosby’s 29th goal of the season ties him with Patrick Marleau for first in the NHL.
Momentum was turning towards Pittsburgh until Kris Letang showed poor gap control during a 2-on-3 rush, as Kyle Brodziak drew Letang out and found Latendresse sneaking in behind Alex Goligoski for a one-timer goal and his 4th point of the night.
With the Wild up 4-3 early in the third period, Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar delivered a vicious hit on the Wild’s Cal Clutterbuck that drew a five-minute major.
Pittsburgh killed off the five-minute power play but failed to deliver on a power play opportunity with just under seven minutes remaining in the game.
Pittsburgh’s power play would struggle once again as the defending champs went 0-for-6 on the night and the struggles continue for Evgeni Malkin.
Malkin was a minus-2 with three shots on goal and two giveaways. He is now scoreless in 12 of his last 13 games.
Pittsburgh outshot Minnesota 38-24. Niklas Backstrom made 35 saves to earn his 20th victory of the season. Marc Andre Fleury had a subpar night, making 20 saves on 24 shots.
Notes: *Despite not participating in the Penguins morning skate, defenseman Ben Lovejoy played over Martin Skoula who was a healthy scratch. Skoula was benched in Thursday’s 7-4 loss to Philadelphia.
*Goaltender Brent Johnson was not active as John Curry served as the teams’ backup. Johnson suffered a groin injury, late into the Penguins morning skate.
*Defenseman Brooks Orpik flew back to Pittsburgh to receive further evaluation on a lower body injury. Orpik will be sidelined for at least a week.
*Sidney Crosby has 32 shots in his last 5 games and 15 shots in his last 2 games.