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Staal’s game-winner leads Wild over Penguins

Eric Staal’s third-period goal proved to be the game-winner as the Minnesota Wild defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 on Thursday night.

The Minnesota Wild had the highest penalty kill percentage in the NHL entering its game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night. Minnesota had only allowed two goals in its first 11 games this season when down a skater.

The Penguins scored two power play goals, but lost 4-2.

Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist scored both of Pittsburgh’s goals. Crosby’s came 7:53 into the first period. Phil Kessel was had the puck along the half boards and passed it to Crosby, steps away from Minnesota goalie Devin Dubnyk. Crosby hardly moved, but with a flick of his stick, re-directed the puck stick side past Dubnyk to make it 1-0, Pittsburgh.

Hornqvist made it 2-1 in the second period when he moved toward the net and tried to make a cross-crease pass to Crosby, but the puck hit defenseman Ryan Suter’s right glove and went through Dubnyk’s five hole.

Both times the Wild responded with goals to even the game up, but finally took the lead in the third period. After surviving a 5-on-3 penalty kill carryover from the second period, the Penguins surrendered the lead on a questionable no-call by the officials.

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang went for the puck to the left if his own net. Wild center Eric Staal chased Letang there, but couldn’t get to the puck first. Letang carried the puck behind the net as Staal applied pressure and appeared to have tripped Letang. The puck squirted loose in front of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. After Fleury saved Charlie Coyle’s initial shot, Staal backhanded the rebound into a wide-open net.

Jason Pominville added an empty net goal in the final 30 seconds to seal the deal.

Fleury, playing in his first game since Nov. 3, stopped 40 of 43 shots. He falls to 6-2-1 on the season.

The loss marked Pittsburgh’s first regulation loss since Oct. 22 and ended the Penguins’ seven-game point streak. Pittsburgh’s next game is Saturday at 7 p.m. against the Toronto Maple Leafs at PPG Paints Arena.

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