Penguins complete season sweep with win over Wild


The Penguins took it to the Minnesota Wild and won their second game in a row to complete the season sweep. 

In their first game after the four day layoff, the Penguins completed the series sweep over the Minnesota Wild 3-1 at Xcel Energy Center to win their second game in a row.

“I thought for the amount of days we had off, we looked sharp,” Sidney Crosby told the Penguins’ website.  “We generated a lot of chances and continued that most of the game.”

In the first period, both teams failed to score but Pittsburgh gained the territorial advantage after outshooting Minnesota 11-4.

However, the black and gold broke the ice 4:23 into the second stanza thanks to Crosby.  After Wild defenseman Ryan Suter failed to keep the puck in the Wild offensive zone, Crosby dueled in a one-on-one battle with Suter’s defensive partner, Jared Spurgeon, and shoveled the puck wide.  Then, he centered it to David Perron and after Perron failed to shovel the backhander on goal, No. 57 found Crosby along the left face-off dot and No. 87 buried the shot low blocker side for his seventh goal of the season.

In the latter stages of the second period, the Wild rang the puck around the boards to the stick of Matt Cullen.  Cullen tried to pass the puck to linemate Kevin Porter, but the pass failed to connect .  However, Porter showed great hustle to wash out a pending icing call and he found Eric Fehr for a nifty redirect for his fourth goal of the season at 18:10 of the frame to increase their lead by two.

Minnesota would quickly respond with a goal of their own as Jason Zucker potted his ninth goal of the campaign just 45 seconds after Fehr notched his tally.  Defenseman Marco Scandella forced a neutral zone turnover, maneuvered the puck to forward Thomas Vanek along the right wing, and Vanek found Zucker along the seem on the strong side and Zucker exposed Murray low glove side.

Spurgeon, who plays alongside Suter on the third-least penalized team in the NHL, took an undisciplined penalty at 19:10 of the second period when he cross checked Chris Kunitz.  Penguins blue liner Kris Letang fired a one-timer wide right of the cage, but thanks to a friendly bounce off of Crosby’s skate and a failed stuff-in attempt by the captain, Patric Hornqvist converted on the man advantage just 16 seconds into the power play to make the score 3-1.

Dec 21, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguin teammates congratulate center

Evgeni Malkin

(71) after a goal by Malkin against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

“Responding to the adversities in the game is really important to us becoming a better team and making sure we don’t let those things affect is in a negative way,” coach Sullivan told‘s Dan Myers. “That was a big goal for us.”

There was a scary incident early in the third period as Letang received a blow to the head when forward Jarret Stoll elevated his shoulder into Letang’s noggin.  Stoll received a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head on the play.  Letang headed down the runway to the locker room, but he cleared concussion protocol and returned to action minutes later.

Goaltender Matt Murray earned his second career win in a Penguins sweater as he turned aside 25 of 26 shots that were sent his way.

Minnesota net minder Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves out of 32 shots in the loss and is now 14-10-2 on the season.

Takeaways from tonight’s contest

Crosby looked like his original self

After sitting out against Columbus and utilizing the four day break to his advantage, the captain appeared to have an extra jump to his step tonight.  He was able to thread the needle on passes, generate some scoring opportunities, and contribute with a goal and assist.  The break seemed to serve as regenerated fuel in the tank for energy and motivation.

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“I felt good,” Crosby said. “You get a little bit of time off and you just want to get back out there and use that rest. I was happy to be back out there, and when everyone is playing like that, it helps everybody.”

Defense leads to offense

The Penguins played a stingier defensive game tonight only allowing 26 shots on goal.  They tightened up in all three zones and they reaped the benefits.  Since they tightened up, it allowed the Penguins to unleash a strong forecheck against the Wild and it created chaos in Minnesota’s end.


Pittsburgh came out with fire in their eyes knowing that they needed to win to keep their playoff hopes alive and gain some standings equity in the process.  They managed to display a shift-by-shift mentality and it paid off.  From forechecking to stable goaltending, their work ethic was incredible.  This was Pittsburgh’s most complete game of the season tonight.

Next: Penguins look to build off of win prior to Christmas break

Pittsburgh will play their second game in as many nights on Sunday at MTS Centre to face the Winnipeg Jets.  Minnesota will close out the home stand on Monday versus the Detroit Red Wings.