PITTSBURGH – The Penguins played Wednesday night in Washington, pulling out a meaningful 2-1 win over the rival Capitals.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re poised for a letdown Thursday when they’re back at home to host the Wild – at least the Wild isn’t counting on that.
“I just know that they’ve got championship blood in their veins, and fatigue is not going to be anything,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “ … I think they’re going to be great tonight. We have to be at our best to be successful.”
Still, this is a challenging turnaround for the Penguins considering the travel. So far, the team is 2-1 in the second half of back-to-backs this season.
What could help the Wild take advantage of the situation is scoring first. That’s been a tall order for the group this season; scoring in general has been difficult of late, since the Wild is coming off its second shutout of the season Tuesday (a 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks).
Not only would securing the first goal likely give the Wild a much-needed confident boost, it’ll also force the Penguins to chase the game – a tough recipe for success when playing two games in as many days.
“If we score the first goal, it’ll lift everybody up,” Boudreau said. “It just seems at the beginning of the year, we had a lot of comebacks. But now when we work very hard and diligently and then we don’t score the first goal, then you can see the shoulders slump a bit and guys get down. It’s up to me to build them back up. We gotta find ways to get those goals.”
Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Mikael Granlund
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter
Jordan Greenway-Charlie Coyle-Luke Kunin
Marcus Foligno-Joel Eriksson Ek-Eric Fehr
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Greg Pateryn
Nick Seeler-Nate Prosser
13: Straight penalty kills for the Wild.
3-1: The Wild’s record in its last four games vs. the Penguins.
200: Career games for defenseman Greg Pateryn.
19: Points for Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby in 15 career games against the Wild.
9-7-2: How the Penguins have fared on home ice this season.
About the Penguins:
This has been an unusually bumpy season for the Penguins, who are a point shy of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The team has had losing streaks of four and five games and hasn’t strung together more than two wins since October. They’ve been steady at home of late, though, going 6-2-1 in their last nine games in Pittsburgh. Crosby paces the Penguins in goals (16) and points (38). Center Evgeni Malkin (37 points) and winger Phil Kessel (36 points) are also among the team’s offensive leaders.