Crosby collects 4 points in return, Penguins rip Wild 7-3

PITTSBURGH (AP) Sidney Crosby stressed he wouldn't try to get “too fancy” in his return from a two-month layoff following abdominal surgery.

It happened anyway. The fact most of the flash cam e from Crosby's teammates during Pittsburgh's 7-3 domination of Minnesota on Tuesday night is symbolic of just how far the Penguins have come during their captain's extended absence.

Sure, Crosby delivered a sublime goal and three assists in his first game since Nov. 9. Yet he was just part of a dynamic attack that picked apart the Wild with ease. Evgeni Malkin scored twice and delivered a pretty no-look drop pass to set up Bryan Rust's 19th goal of the season. Jared McCann scored for the fourth time in five games on a tap-in goal late in the first period that came at the end of a highlight-reel sequence in which John Marino feathered a cross-ice pass to Dominik Simon, who redirected it to McCann on the doorstep.

“It's fun to compete and with the way we work too, being out there on the bench seeing it shift after shift, it’s a great way to play,” Crosby said. "Everyone’s involved and I think that’s tough for teams to play against.”

Crosby needed less than eight minutes to pick up his first point since before Halloween when he assisted on Malkin's first goal of the night 7:57 into the game. Crosby added his sixth goal of the season in the third period when he slipped a backhand past Devan Dubnyk as the Penguins rolled to their fourth straight victory.

“Every player is important here in locker room but Sid is captain," Malkin said. "He is our leader. He's a great player, great teammate. You see tonight with him, it creates four lines. Power play is better. We're lucky he's back.”

Crosby skated 17:53 after missing 28 games and looked just as dangerous as ever as the Penguins pulled within four points of first-place Washington in the Metropolitan Division.

“He's been working so hard to kind of get back in game shape and get that speed back, get that conditioning back," Rust said. "He's obviously done a phenomenal job and I'm not surprised.”

Zach Parise scored twice and Marcus Foligno added his ninth for the Wild but Minnesota never really got back in it after spotting the Penguins a four-goal lead. Dubnyk finished with 22 saves, but the Wild fell to 1-5-1 in their last seven games.

“Obviously, with their captain coming back, they have a lot of things going for them," Foligno said. "They're playing well even without him. Instead of just playing smart and working hard in a greasy road game, we just open things up.”

The Penguins were off to a solid but hardly spectacular start when Crosby went on injured reserve after aggravating a hernia in a loss to Chicago in early November. Yet rather than wobble with Crosby watching from the press box, Pittsburgh hit the gas. The Penguins went 18-6-4 during Crosby's layoff, the second-best record in the NHL over that span, relying on disciplined play and balanced scoring to rocket up the standings.

It's a formula that got a little more dangerous with Crosby's familiar No. 87 back in the lineup. The Penguins are still missing All-Star forward Jake Guentzel ��� out the rest of the regular season with a shoulder injury - and defenseman Justin Schultz and Brian Dumoulin, but lead the NHL in goal differential anyway.

“We’re playing well," Crosby said. “It’s going to get more difficult with every game, especially in the second half, things tend to tighten up. We’re going to have to continue to make strides but our work ethic and attention to detail has been pretty good throughout.”

Rust's 10th goal in his last 16 games came courtesy of a streaking Malkin, who chased down a loose puck in the neutral zone, drew two Minnesota players and dropped a blind backhand to Rust in the slot. Rust easily beat Dubnyk to give the Penguins a three-goal lead 14:04 into the second. Asked how he knew Malkin would find him, Rust shrugged.

“I don't know, he's Russian,” Rust said with a laugh. “He's got like three eyes or something.”

Minnesota briefly got back in it when Foligno's ninth of the season drew the Wild within 4-2 early in the third period. Minnesota would get no closer. Crosby's goal 7:41 into the third restored a three-goal lead and when Simon scored 39 seconds later the rout was on.

NOTES: Minnesota ended up playing with five defensemen instead of the usual six after the coaching staff inadvertently listed defenseman Greg Pateryn as a healthy scratch. Pateryn dressed expecting to play but was sent back to the locker room just before the opening faceoff when officials noticed Minnesota had 19 skaters dressed instead of the typical 18 (and two goalies). Center Ryan Donato, who was supposed to be scratched, skated just 4:59. Wild coach Bruce Boudreau took responsibility for what he called a “dumb mistake.” ... Crosby now has 33 career four-point games, most among active players. ... Penguins D Kris Letang became the first defenseman in team history to reach 400 career assists when he helped set up Malkin's second goal. ... The Penguins went 2 for 4 on the power play. The Wild were 1 for 2 with the man advantage.

UP NEXT

Wild: Start a seven-game homestand on Thursday against Tampa Bay.

Penguins: Begin a two-game road trip on Thursday in Boston. The Bruins beat the Penguins 6-4 in their first meeting on Nov. 4.

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Copyright 2020 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

123T
MIN20-20-6
0123
PIT29-12-5
2237
STARS OF THE GAME
SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
J. Brodin D00000/0026:181
R. Donato LW00-111/1004:571
M. Dumba D00-430/0224:361
J. Eriksson Ek C01009/10015:392
K. Fiala RW01010/0214:060
M. Foligno LW10020/0214:196
J. Greenway LW00-110/0012:182
R. Hartman RW00-112/4012:510
M. Koivu C00-128/8013:390
L. Kunin RW01041/1014:243
Z. Parise LW20-140/0013:311
V. Rask C00-120/1009:401
C. Soucy D00100/0022:463
J. Spurgeon D00110/0022:231
E. Staal C00-136/6017:411
R. Suter D00-420/0022:430
M. Zuccarello RW00-120/0216:280
J. Zucker LW00-100/0016:252
SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
A. Agozzino LW01006/3210:032
Z. Aston-Reese LW00100/1017:014
T. Blueger C00117/7016:320
S. Crosby C131311/6017:530
A. Galchenyuk LW10010/1010:010
P. Hornqvist RW01010/0015:371
J. Johnson D00210/0019:195
D. Kahun LW01110/0014:050
K. Letang D01360/0026:061
E. Malkin C21167/5017:361
J. Marino D01200/0019:060
J. McCann C11130/4214:000
M. Pettersson D00110/0020:272
J. Riikola D00-100/0013:522
C. Ruhwedel D00-120/0016:153
B. Rust RW11110/0017:110
D. Simon LW11210/0014:010
B. Tanev RW00010/0016:584
GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
D. Dubnyk (L)297220.75960:00
GOALIESSA
D. Dubnyk (L)29
GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
T. Jarry (W)293260.89760:00
GOALIESSA
T. Jarry (W)29
GOAL Zach Parise (Backhand shot)
MIN:GoalsShots
PIT:GoalsShots
Full Play By Play
GOALS
  • 3RD PERIOD
    • MIN
      19:47(PP) GOAL Zach Parise (Backhand shot)
    • PIT
      16:57GOAL Alex Galchenyuk (Snap shot), Assists: Andrew Agozzino and Patric Hornqvist
    • PIT
      08:20GOAL Dominik Simon (Wrist shot), Assist: Sidney Crosby
    • PIT
      07:41GOAL Sidney Crosby (Backhand shot), Assist: Jared McCann
    • MIN
      02:15GOAL Marcus Foligno (Wrist shot), Assists: Joel Eriksson Ek and Luke Kunin
  • 2ND PERIOD
    • MIN
      17:17GOAL Zach Parise (Wrist shot), Assist: Kevin Fiala
    • PIT
      15:05(PP) GOAL Evgeni Malkin (Tip-in shot), Assists: Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby
    • PIT
      14:04GOAL Bryan Rust (Snap shot), Assists: Evgeni Malkin and Dominik Kahun
  • 1ST PERIOD
    • PIT
      17:57GOAL Jared McCann (Wrist shot), Assists: Dominik Simon and John Marino
    • PIT
      07:57(PP) GOAL Evgeni Malkin (Backhand shot), Assists: Bryan Rust and Sidney Crosby
PENALTIES
  • 3RD PERIOD
    • PIT
      17:50Jared McCann penalty High Sticking - 2 min.
  • 2ND PERIOD
    • MIN
      14:18Mats Zuccarello penalty High Sticking - 2 min.
  • 1ST PERIOD
    • MIN
      19:30Marcus Foligno penalty High Sticking - 2 min.
    • PIT
      13:44Andrew Agozzino penalty Interference - 2 min.
    • MIN
      10:09Kevin Fiala penalty Holding - 2 min.
    • MIN
      07:28Matt Dumba penalty High Sticking - 2 min.
TEAM STATS
MIN
PIT
Shots on Goal2929
Goals in Power Play12
Faceoff Wins2731
Penalties42
Major Penalties00
Minor Penalties42
Misconducts00
TEAM STATS
MIN
Shots on Goal29
Goals in Power Play1
Faceoff Wins27
Penalties4
Major Penalties0
Minor Penalties4
Misconducts0
123T
MIN20-20-6
0123
PIT29-12-5
2237
STARS OF THE GAME
10.3%SHOT %24.1%
0.759%SAVE %0.897%
SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
J. Brodin D00000/0026:181
R. Donato LW00-111/1004:571
M. Dumba D00-430/0224:361
J. Eriksson Ek C01009/10015:392
K. Fiala RW01010/0214:060
M. Foligno LW10020/0214:196
J. Greenway LW00-110/0012:182
R. Hartman RW00-112/4012:510
M. Koivu C00-128/8013:390
L. Kunin RW01041/1014:243
Z. Parise LW20-140/0013:311
V. Rask C00-120/1009:401
C. Soucy D00100/0022:463
J. Spurgeon D00110/0022:231
E. Staal C00-136/6017:411
R. Suter D00-420/0022:430
M. Zuccarello RW00-120/0216:280
J. Zucker LW00-100/0016:252
SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
A. Agozzino LW01006/3210:032
Z. Aston-Reese LW00100/1017:014
T. Blueger C00117/7016:320
S. Crosby C131311/6017:530
A. Galchenyuk LW10010/1010:010
P. Hornqvist RW01010/0015:371
J. Johnson D00210/0019:195
D. Kahun LW01110/0014:050
K. Letang D01360/0026:061
E. Malkin C21167/5017:361
J. Marino D01200/0019:060
J. McCann C11130/4214:000
M. Pettersson D00110/0020:272
J. Riikola D00-100/0013:522
C. Ruhwedel D00-120/0016:153
B. Rust RW11110/0017:110
D. Simon LW11210/0014:010
B. Tanev RW00010/0016:584
GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
D. Dubnyk (L)297220.75960:00
GOALIESSA
D. Dubnyk (L)29
GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
T. Jarry (W)293260.89760:00
GOALIESSA
T. Jarry (W)29
STARS OF THE GAME
123T
MIN20-20-6
0123
PIT29-12-5
2237
SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
J. Brodin D00000/0026:181
R. Donato LW00-111/1004:571
M. Dumba D00-430/0224:361
J. Eriksson Ek C01009/10015:392
K. Fiala RW01010/0214:060
M. Foligno LW10020/0214:196
J. Greenway LW00-110/0012:182
R. Hartman RW00-112/4012:510
M. Koivu C00-128/8013:390
L. Kunin RW01041/1014:243
Z. Parise LW20-140/0013:311
V. Rask C00-120/1009:401
C. Soucy D00100/0022:463
J. Spurgeon D00110/0022:231
E. Staal C00-136/6017:411
R. Suter D00-420/0022:430
M. Zuccarello RW00-120/0216:280
J. Zucker LW00-100/0016:252
Total3302927/318-25
SKATERSGA+/-SOGFW/FLPIMTOIHITS
A. Agozzino LW01006/3210:032
Z. Aston-Reese LW00100/1017:014
T. Blueger C00117/7016:320
S. Crosby C131311/6017:530
A. Galchenyuk LW10010/1010:010
P. Hornqvist RW01010/0015:371
J. Johnson D00210/0019:195
D. Kahun LW01110/0014:050
K. Letang D01360/0026:061
E. Malkin C21167/5017:361
J. Marino D01200/0019:060
J. McCann C11130/4214:000
M. Pettersson D00110/0020:272
J. Riikola D00-100/0013:522
C. Ruhwedel D00-120/0016:153
B. Rust RW11110/0017:110
D. Simon LW11210/0014:010
B. Tanev RW00010/0016:584
Total71202931/274-25
GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
D. Dubnyk (L)297220.75960:00
GOALIESSA
D. Dubnyk (L)29
GOALIESSAGASVSV%TOI
T. Jarry (W)293260.89760:00
GOALIESSA
T. Jarry (W)29
GOALS
  • 3RD PERIOD
  • 2ND PERIOD
  • 1ST PERIOD
PENALTIES
  • 3RD PERIOD
  • 2ND PERIOD
  • 1ST PERIOD
  • 3RD PERIOD
  • 2ND PERIOD
  • 1ST PERIOD

123T
MIN20-20-6
0123
PIT29-12-5
2237
TEAM STATS
3.35
GF AVG
3.70
GA AVG
.63
Power Play
3.68
GF AVG
2.98
GA AVG
.59
Power Play
All times are US/Eastern.