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Wild limp into All-Star break with 6-3 loss to Penguins

Sarah McLellan, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Hockey

PITTSBURGH -- Amid an up-and-down season in which losses have been almost as common as wins, the Penguins haven't consistently skated as the powerhouse that became the reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champions.

But they certainly did Thursday, flexing more than enough skill to nix the Wild's season-high six-game point streak with a 6-3 victory at PPG Paints Arena that halted the Wild's momentum just as it embarks on the All-Star break.

In a vintage Pittsburgh performance, captain Sidney Crosby set up three goals -- securing yet another milestone in the process -- while center Evgeni Malkin scored twice and added an assist. Winger Phil Kessel also had a three-point effort.

And rookie Casey DeSmith, in just his sixth NHL appearance, posted 23 saves.

Pittsburgh was in control from the get-go, using smooth skating and crisp passing to work around the Wild. And on their sixth shot (the Wild had yet to register one), the Penguins finally capitalized after a failed clearing attempt by center Eric Staal on a rising one-timer from winger Dominik Simon just 3 minutes, 54 seconds into the first period.

With an assist on the play, Crosby notched his 1,080th career point -- moving into second on the franchise's all-time points list, passing Jaromir Jagr.

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A fortuitous bounce upped the Penguins' lead to 2 later in the period.

While on the power play, Malkin's wraparound attempt caromed off defenseman Ryan Suter and then goalie Devan Dubnyk before rolling in at 9:09.

The Penguins didn't slow down in the second.

After defenseman Matt Dumba's clearing shot along the boards was kept in the Wild's zone, Malkin eventually found winger Carl Hagelin for a shot from the slot that eluded Dubnyk 9:28 into the period.

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