The Penguins won all three games on a trip against teams in the top half of the Western Conference, all by 4-3 scores — one in regulation, one in overtime and in Sunday’s eight-round shootout at Arizona.
“It was obviously a great trip,” said Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan, whose team hosts the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. “We knew it was going to be a real tough trip, playing against some real good teams that are playing pretty good hockey.
“The fact that we were able to take six points out of it is a credit to the team. They’re playing hard. Guys are competing out there. We’re finding different ways to win. Different guys are stepping up at key times, and we’re getting saves.”
The Penguins came from behind, went back and forth and staved off a comeback for the three wins, and always came up with a timely goal or two.
“It’s good that goals are going in,” said Teddy Blueger, who during the trip had a goal and two assists, also adding the shootout winner Sunday. “Hopefully, we can build on that.”
This will be the Penguins’ fourth straight game against a team from the West. They are 19-4-2 in interconference games.
There seems to be a good chance that Pittsburgh center and team captain Sidney Crosby will return Tuesday from sports hernia surgery after missing 28 games. He was close to playing Sunday.
At 188 man-games lost and counting, the Penguins have remained near the top of the Eastern Conference standings despite regularly missing multiple players, including long-term injuries to key team members.
“Hopefully, guys start coming back soon and we stay healthy,” winger Patric Hornqvist said. “If not, you know, we’ll keep going out and working hard, playing good hockey and take our chances. We really don’t have a choice. And I think guys in this (locker) room, like, don’t know how to do anything else.”
Minnesota, meanwhile, brings some frustration with it to Pittsburgh.
The Wild have lost three straight games (0-2-1) and five of six, getting just one goal in four of those six, including each of the past two.
“We’re a team when we’re going well, we get shots on net. We go to the net,” Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said. “That’s how we score. We grind it out. But we don’t have enough guys grinding right now.”
One Wild player going strong is Marcus Foligno, who has four goals in the past four games. But he’s not getting a lot of help.
“It just seemed like we were just hoping for something to give us a bounce and it just wasn’t happening,” Foligno said after Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Vancouver.
The game at Pittsburgh is one of just two road contests this month, which shaped the Wild’s goals.
“We looked at January as a homestand, and we haven’t really done much (with) it. It’s frustrating,” Foligno said. “We can still salvage it and get it back before the All-Star break, to make something out of it.”
–Field Level Media
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