G-I-V-E-A-W-A-Y-S spelled disaster for the Wild in its return to action after the Christmas break. The Penguins were reeling again coming into Saturday night's game and were looking to break the skid. Luckily the Wild are some sort of panacea for all of the Penguin's ills. Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, and Eric Fehr socred three goals en route to the victory and all that Minnesota could muster was a single goal from Jason Zucker.
Both teams skated to a scoreless tie, as Devan Dubnyk seemed like the only Wild player to understand that the vacation was indeed over. Having to make 11 saves in the first period, Dubnyk watched his teammates struggle exiting the zone and continually cough up the puck all over the ice. The Penguins started rookie goaltender Matt Murray, and Minnesota decided to let him ease into the game with only four shots on goal the entire period. The legs, for the most part looked like they were there, but the hands and the finer details of the Wild's execution was almost non-existent. From fumbled passes to hitting the goal post, and just mis-handling the puck, Minnesota just could not get much of anything.
The best thing about the first period was that it was over. However, the Wild couldn't re-group in the intermission and more mistakes led to Sidnet Crosby breaking the tie. Ryan Suter completely missed the puck on an attempt to dump the puck deep into the zone and it led to a 1-on-1 chance. Dubnyk made a great save, but Minnesota's failure to clear the puck led to Crosby getting the puck on the left circle and beat Dubnyk on the short side.
Minnesota had two opportunities to tie the game with two consecutive power play chances after Crosby's goal. The Wild only mustered two shots on goal on the man-advantage for the second period, and three shots on three power plays to that point. It just wasn't pretty. Even less pretty was when Kevin Porter beat Ryan Suter and the rest of the Wild into the zone to negate the icing call. Porter set up Eric Fehr who was crashing the net and he tipped one past Dubnyk.
Thomas Vanek made a great pass to find Zucker, who beat his man, in stride to finally beat the rookie netminder. Minnesota finally looked like it might have captured a smidge of momentum in a game that it really should not have been in.
Then Jared Spurgeon was called for cross-checking.
The last thing the Wild needed to do in a game it already spent in its own zone was to give the Penguins more room and more time on the offensive zone. It honestly didn't take long when a shot from the point by Kris Letang caromed out to Crosby who had room to try and shove it past Dubnyk. The puck squirted into the blue paint behind Dubnyk, and Hornqvist finished it off.
Twelve shots on goal through 40 minutes of play.
Jarret Stoll was called for two minute minor for an illegal check to the head. Stoll's shoulder appears to have barely glanced off the shoulder of Letang before the shoulder cap made contact with face/chin area of Letang. Letang immediately went to the ice and then eventually off to the dressing room. After a couple shifts missed, presumably to check for concussion-like symptoms, Letang did make a return to game action. Here's the hit; you make a decision on what should be done, if anything, to Stoll for this hit.
Letang to the locker room after this Stoll hit (2 min minor for illegal check to the head) pic.twitter.com/90uigCK5Uj— Stephanie (@myregularface) December 27, 2015
In the end, the Wild couldn't find the back of the net to even make it interesting in the third period. Minnesota falls again to the Pens. The scoreboard may not have read 7-1, but it sure felt like one.