The Pittsburgh Penguins just didn’t have anything going for them Saturday night, as they fell 4-0 to the Minnesota Wild.
Pittsburgh couldn’t muster up much in the first period – even though they outshot the Wild 8-to-6.
With no serious sustained pressure, the Penguins gave up three goals to the Wild in the first period. At 1:42, Minnesota’s Erik Hula scored a nifty backhander to give the Wild a 1-0 lead. And then shortly after, at the 8:47-mark, veteran Mikko Koivu wristed a goal past rookie tender Jeff Zatkoff to make it 2-0. And finally, at the 14:56-mark of the first, Stephane Veilleux scored with a snap-shot and really put a hurt on Pittsburgh. Turnovers and lack of effort has really hurt the Pens in the first.
Second period was not any better than the first, with the Pens being outshot 10-to-5. Takeaways and giveaways seriously favored the Wild. The offensive zone time was completely dominated by the Wild, with the Pens barely generating anything to be worth talking about. The Wild scored another to rub salt in the wound, at the 6:24-mark of the second. Cody McCormick scored with a snap-shot past Zatkoff – who remained in the game.
The third period was the most brutal to watch.
The Minnesota Wild did exactly what they wanted to do, and that’s shut down the Penguins. While the third stanza was boring because the action was slow and non-existent, it was a coach’s delight for former Penguins’ coach Mike Yeo. The Pens’ outshot the Wild 7-to-4 in the third, but again getting blanked on the power play proved to be detrimental.
Ilya Bryzgalov went on to record his 32nd career shutout.
I’d like to first mention, that neither Jussi Jokinen, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang or Joe Vitale were in the lineup, and they certainly would have been a factor in the Penguins loss tonight.
The fact is the Pens are not too far removed from the opening night lineup of the playoffs. And as much as everyone loves Sidney Crosby and thinks Malkin is expendable, they quickly realize that Crosby will not hold the load when “Geno” is out of the lineup for too long. The team needs them both for different reasons, and when one is hurt, the other bares more of the workload.
There is not team in the NHL that has one standalone player that carries their squad to the Cup Finals. Unfortunately, Zatkoff was not on his game tonight, and with the Pens’ lack of D-zone tactics, Zatkoff struggled.
Catch game two of the Penguins back-to-back games, Sunday, at 8 p.m., against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver.
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