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Wild dispatches Penguins in 6-2 thumping

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Minnesota Wild Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Wild have scored a total of 10 goals against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, while only surrendering four to sweep the season series. Charli Coyle, Jonas Brodin, Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund, and Nino Niederreiter pummeled the net behind Penguins’ starter Marc-Andre Fleury as the offense finally came to life. Minnesota was able to use the power play to pull away from the Pens and keep the pressure on Pittsburgh throughout the game.

The first period, and a theme throughout much of the game, the Parise - Eric Staal - Coyle line forced the issue deep in the Pittsburgh zone. Coyle scored the first goal of the game at just 40 seconds of the period after the Parise skated to the front of the net and got a shot off that Fleury would stop initially. Coyle, crashing the net, then got ahold of the rebound and put it past the Penguins netminder.

Matt Cullen was called for Delay of Game after pitching the puck over the glass and out of play. The power play was able to amass four shots on goal. The fourth shot being Jonas Brodin’s slapper from the point over Fleury’s glove. It was Brodin’s second power play goal in as many games.

Phil Kessel, with many fans in the building, scored to get one back for the Penguins at 13:09 of the first. The Wild, who had out-shot Pittsburgh 10-4 at that point, allowed the Penguins to get one back. Jake Guentzel, son of University of Minnesota Mens’ Hockey Associate Head Coach Mike Guentzel, whose first goal came on his first shift in the NHL just a couple games ago, was first into the zone on the forecheck. The puck then went to Evgeni Malkin in the right circle. Malkin didn’t waste any time to send the puck through the crease to Kessel on the back door to complete the alley-oop.

After the Penguins finally came to life after the Kessel goal, the Wild would re-gain the two-goal lead when Coyle scored with 22.2 seconds left in the period. That line just created havoc in the Pittsburgh zone. This time, Parise’s work in the corner allowed the puck to find Coyle in the right circle, where he shot and found a way through Fleury for his second goal of the night. The goal would be recorded as unassisted, but it was the work of that line by Staal and Parise to set that up.

The second period saw the Wild get a couple of odd-man rushes, that never became goals. Jason Zucker pushed the puck past the Penguins defensemen at the Wild blue line, then left everyone in his dust. In alone and Zucker shot just wide of the far post. Staal got a chance in short-handed on a partial breakaway. Staal couldn’t get clear from the back-checker and attempted a spin-o-rama that was stopped by Fleury. And another chance with Chris Stewart and Zack Mitchell on a 2-on-1 that never resulted in an attempted shot. There hasn’t been enough talk about just how bad this Wild team is in odd-man rushed. This isn’t a problem this season, but goes back multiple seasons.

After Ian Cole was called for roughing, Parise would end up finding the net for the second game in a row. Staal sent the puck from the near boards to Parise in a wide-open slot. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang attempted to check Parise, which Parise was able to shake off. Once the defenseman was clear, Parise picked his head up and deposited the puck into the upper right corner.

Mikael Granlund, who’s been having a stellar few weeks of play with very little reward, got on the board. Brodin made a hell of a headman pass to Granlund at the Pittsburgh line. Granlund would eventually toe drag around a sliding Penguin and beat Fleury glove side. The score was 5-1 at the end of two.

It wouldn’t have been a surprise if Matt Murray had come out of the second intermission to take the net over for Fleury, who definitely seemed to struggle with his glove during the match. However, they chose not to make the switch, probably because the Pens were playing in the front-half of a back-to-back.

Pittsburgh would eventually find a way to beat Devan Dubnyk for the second time, when a puck deflected off Haula, who was back checking, and caught Dubnyk sliding the wrong way. The goal was credited to Bryan Rust.

Matt Cullen would take his second penalty of the game when he was assessed two minutes for high sticking. Minnesota would get its third power play goal of the game, and first time all season they scored three goals with the man-advantage all season. Nino Niederreiter made a nice deflection on a Granlund shot to send the puck over Fluery’s blocker to make the score 6-2. That would be the final score.

Jonas Brodin had a career high three points in the game. Both teams combined for a total of 72 shots on goal as both sides shot 36 times on net.

For a team struggling to find the net more than three times a game, breaking out for six goals against the defending Stanley Cup Champs is a great boost to the confidence.

Edit: Brodin's power play goal was changed to Niederreiter, from Brodin and Koivu. This came from the off-ice officials after the game.