Minnesota Wild Lifeless in Loss to Pittsburgh Penguins


98. Final. 7. 92. 2

Even though they’ve lost by a bigger margin already this season, the Minnesota Wild gave one of its worst performances yet in a blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Things went from bad to worse after the game, as Ryan Suter may face supplemental discipline for an elbowing incident on Steve Downie.

Good evening, Wild fans. Last night’s game against the Penguins was bad. Marc-Andre Fleury, who has never beaten the Minnesota Wild, handily stopped the slumping Wild. The game wasn’t even close. Justin Fontaine and Jonas Brodin had the goals for Minnesota. Justin Falk was hurt early in the game. A 7-2 loss is bad. A 7-2 loss  to a team that has dealt with the same injury and illness issues as the Wild is worse. Don’t forget to check out Tyler’s Game Preview and our three stars of the week before we get to my notes. Short play recap tonight, long Trembley’s take.

First Period:

Evgeni Malkin passed the puck right on to the stick of Erik Haula in the low slot early on, but Haula’s quick shot was an easy read for Fleury who gloved it down.

The Wild managed a great forecheck and forced some turnovers early, outshooting the Penguins 8-4 in the first 5 minutes.

The Penguins high-flying offense wouldn’t be held off the board for long. Penguins don’t fly, so… high swimming? Anyway. The Pens 4th line, led by Marcel Goc, put them on the board first. Zach Sill beat Falk for a loose puck and fired a shot at Niklas Backstrom. Backstrom gave up a juicy rebound from the edge of the crease which made its way right back to Sill who passed off for Goc. Goc beat Backstrom and a diving Ryan Suter with an off the ice wrist shot. 1-0 Penguins at 06:16 of the first period. Justin Falk was injured on this play and did not return the remainder of the game.

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Just 6 minutes later, David Perron picked up a rebound off of a Christian Ehrhoff shot, dangled, and pushed the puck past Backstrom who had absolutely NO IDEA where the puck was. Since being traded to Pittsburgh from Edmonton, Perron has found himself on the top line and has produced 2 goals in 4 games. 2-0 Penguins at 12:04 of the first period.

The Wild comfortably outshot the Penguins and had good chances and good net-front presence, but Fleury is stingy with the rebounds.

Shots after one period: Minnesota Wild 12, Pittsburgh Penguins 9

Second Period:

Mikko Koivu got stonewalled on a 2-on-1 super early. Surprisingly, head coach Mike Yeo didn’t instantly remove the “C” from his sweater. I guess he doesn’t check twitter.

In the 4th minute, Ryan Suter delivered an elbow to the head of Steve Downie in front of the Wild’s net. Downie hit the ice and left play at the next stoppage. Suter apologized to Downie via Sidney Crosby, as Downie did not return to the game. Suter isn’t that kind of player, but on the replay you can see he brought his elbow up with his stick. I don’t think Suter intended to elbow Downie in the face. Rather, I think he was trying to get him off his path to the net and his elbow got too high. Here’s a vine, courtesy of twitter user Pete Blackburn.

To give a glimmer of hope to a game that felt hopeless, Brodin pulled the Wild to within a goal on a delayed penalty. With 6 skaters on the ice, Nate Prosser sent a great cross-ice pass to Brodin who fired an even nicer wrister just inside the short side goal post above Fleury’s blocker. 2-1 Penguins at 05:12 of the second period. 

The Penguins went to their first power play of the night and needed just 5 seconds with the man advantage to score. Evgeni Malkin fired a shot that slid through Backstrom but didn’t clear the crease. From his stomach, Chris Kunitz found the puck before Backstrom could figure out where it was and slid the puck home to make it 3-1 Penguins at 06:45 of the second period. I think Backstrom still doesn’t know where that puck went.

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  • Penguins got a second power play when Haula got the gate for boarding Bryan Rust. Wild killed it off, but it didn’t matter. Pittsburgh won this game 6 minutes in.

    Shots after two periods: Minnesota Wild 23, Pittsburgh Penguins 26

    Third Period:

    The Wild opened the third period with just less than two minutes on the power play. 2 shots on goal with the top power play unit out for the whole thing. Nothing else to report on that.

    Brandon Sutter scored on a breakaway with Suter hot on his trail. Sutter effortlessly put the puck in the top corner of the goal over Backstrom’s right shoulder. With an unsatisfying clang, it was 4-1 Pittsburgh at 04:03 of the third period. 

    Matt Cooke put a clean, heavy hit on Ehrhoff in the corner midway through the 3rd. Ehrhoff skated off under his own power, but looked a bit rattled.

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  • Paul Martin added to the rout with a little help from Prosser. Collecting a rebound from a Nick Spaling shot and bouncing it off his chest like a soccer ball, Martin wove a path around Backstrom and slid the puck in to the net. Prosser made a sliding attempt to stop the puck but ended up deflecting the puck in with his skate. Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville were flanking the goal and made no effort to poke the puck off of Martin’s stick. Frustrating. 5-1 Penguins at 09:08 of the third period.

    Next, Kris Letang made it 6-1 Penguins at 10:56 of the third period with a breakaway bid. Jared Spurgeon and Suter were caught staring at Crosby and Perron, leaving Letang wide open. With that goal, John Curry came in to relieve Backstrom.

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    Justin Fontaine earned his 4th of the year and Erik Haula finally made his way back on to the score sheet when the game didn’t matter. Haula picked up a pass from Suter and entered the zone down the Slot with Fontaine cruising down the right-wing wall. Haula used his speed to push Ehrhoff away from the play and Fontaine fired a beautiful shot just over the glove of Fleury to make it 6-2 Penguins at 13:57 of the third period. It really was a beautiful shot, for what it’s worth. Have a look:

    Perron earned his second of the night and gave John Curry a save percentage of 0.500 with a wrister that made it 7-2 Penguins at 16:39 of the third period. Touchdown, Penguins.

    Final shots on goal: Minnesota Wild 32, Pittsburgh Penguins 37

    Trembley’s Take:

    6 losses in a row. What else can I say about the losing streak that I haven’t already said? This is the second time the Wild have allowed 7 goals against this season.

    After the game, the players had a players-only meeting in the locker room that was nearly 30 minutes long. Who knows what they said, but it might be a sign they haven’t given up. I hope it means they haven’t given up.

    Ryan Suter has a phone hearing with the NHL department of player safety later on today. A phone hearing means that Suter will face supplemental discipline, which could be a fine or suspension. If he is suspended, a phone hearing means he will not be suspended for more than 5 games. Suter has never faced supplemental discipline before. The Wild’s blue line is remarkably thin to begin with. Add Justin Falk’s injury and we’re looking at a decimated blue line. Stay tuned to GPW for news on Suter’s discipline.

    On a silver lining note, Jonas Brodin, who played 25 minutes, was a +1. He was on the ice for nearly half the game, and was still +1. Good game for Brodin.

    Not a great possession night for the Wild, either. Fontaine and Haula were the only players with a corsi-for better than 60%.

    The Wild take on the Buffalo Sabres Thursday. At this point, even they don’t look like a sure win. The Wild can’t seem to buy a regulation win lately. Talk to you then, folks.