Recap: Game 8 – Penguins vs. Wild.

For the second straight night and for the eighth time this season, the Pittsburgh Penguins took to the ice. The Pens wrapped up their two day road trip tonight in Minnesota where they went head-to-head with the Wild.

Matt Niskanen of the Pittsburgh Penguins blocks a shot Tuesday, October 18, 2011 versus the Minnesota Wild. (Courtesy of Getty Images.)

Despite building momentum early on in the first period and gaining a lot of offensive zone time, the Penguins would be unable to capitalize in the first twenty. The period would see a lot of back and forth play as Minnesota would even out the momentum in the bottom half of the first with a couple big hits and a couple good scoring opportunities denied them by Pens net-minder Brent Johnson. The Penguins would successfully kill off two penalties and would register 9 shots on goal.

Just 46 seconds into the second period, it would be Chris Kunitz netting Pittsburgh’s first goal of the night courtesy of a beautiful set-up by line mate Pascal Dupuis. After thwarting a Wild clearing attempt, Dupuis would skate the puck up ice and pass it to Kunitz who would blast one past Minnesota net-minder Niklas Backstrom. Kunitz’ goal would be followed by Jordan Staal’s third of the season with 12:46 remaining in the second. Staal’s power play goal (a result of a four minute high-sticking penalty given to the Wild’s  Brad Staubitz that saw Pittsburgh’s Joe Vitale head down the run way) was the result of a spin and tuck manoeuver following the reception of a shot from linemate Zbynek Michalek. The 2-0 lead, however, was short lived with the Wild striking back less than a minute later. Minnesota’s Cal Clutterbuck would be credited with the goal after a sniping a wrist shot past Johnson. At the end of the first forty, with the shots even at 16 a piece, the Pens would head into the third with the lead.

James Neal would score his sixth of the season less than five minutes into the third, returning the Pens two-goal lead. This would be followed by a short-handed goal courtesy of Pascal Dupuis and a beautiful backhander over Backstrom and into the mesh. Minnesota’s Guillaume Latendresse would respond with a goal of his own but it would not be enough as the Pens would edge Minnesota 4-2, earning their third road win of the season.

Penguins net-minder Brent Johnson is congratulated by Pascal Dupuis following Pittsburgh's 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. (Courtesy of Getty Images.)

Zbynek Michalek led all skaters with 29:20 of ice time followed by Paul Martin with 29:04. Matt Niskanen led all skaters with 4 shots on goal. Brent Johnson stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced while the Penguins fired 25 in the direction of Backstrom. James Neal continues to sit in first place in terms of goals scored while the Penguins still hold steady at second place in the Eastern Conference.

Tonight’s game saw the Penguins missing yet another face as defenceman Kris Letang was suspended for two games following a hit on Alexander Burmistrov. It was announced that Letang would have a disciplinary hearing sometime today and the news broke late in the afternoon that he would miss two games and be fined $37, 837.84. During the game, both center Joe Vitale and call up Brian Strait would head off down the runway as a result of injuries. While Vitale would later return to the game, Strait would not. He is now listed with an upperbody injury.  It also appeared as though net-minder Brent Johnson had been injured following a collision with Pens d-man Matt Niskanen. Despite the fact that Johnson was slow to get up, he stayed in the game and played the full sixty minutes. Center Tyler Kennedy was also not in the line-up, believed to be suffering from post-concussion symptoms. It goes without saying that the Pens were also missing captain Sidney Crosby (post-concussion,) Evgeni Malkin (soreness), Brooks Orpik (recovering from surgery,) and Dustin Jeffrey (also recovering from surgery.)

The Penguins will return to Pittsburgh where they will take on the Montreal Canadiens , Game start is at 7:00pm.

Three Stars:
1. Brent Johnson
2. Cal Clutterbuck
3. Jordan Staal.