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Wild power past uninspired Penguins, 4-0

AP - Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon falls as he and Penguins center Brian Gibbons chase the puck during the first period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon falls as he and Penguins center Brian Gibbons chase the puck during the first period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
AP - Wild left wing Erik Haula scores against Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff during the first period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Wild left wing Erik Haula scores against Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff during the first period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
AP - Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov deflects a shot by Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz during the first period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov deflects a shot by  Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz during the first period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
AP - Wild center Stephane Veilleux (top right) celebrates with right wing Jason Pominville (top left) and center Cody McCormick after scoring against Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff during the first period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Wild center Stephane Veilleux (top right) celebrates with right wing Jason Pominville (top left) and center Cody McCormick after scoring against Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff during the first period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
AP - Penguins center Brandon Sutter controls the puck in front of Wild defenseman Marco Scandella during the second period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Penguins center Brandon Sutter controls the puck in front of  Wild defenseman Marco Scandella during the second period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
AP - The Penguins defenseman Paul Martin controls the puck in front of Wild left wing Matt Cooke during the second period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Penguins defenseman Paul Martin controls the puck in front of Wild left wing Matt Cooke during the second period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
AP - Penguins center Brandon Sutter checks Wild center Stephane Veilleux off the puck and into the Wild's bench during the second period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Penguins center Brandon Sutter checks Wild center Stephane Veilleux off the puck and into the Wild's bench during the second period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
AP - Penguins center Sidney Crosby controls the puck in front of Wild defenseman Nate Prosser during the third period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Penguins center Sidney Crosby controls the puck in front of Wild defenseman Nate Prosser during the third period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
AP - Wild center Mikko Koivu and Penguins center Brian Gibbons chase the puck during the first period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Wild center Mikko Koivu and Penguins center Brian Gibbons chase the puck during the first period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
AP - Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov stops a shot in front of Wild defenseman Nate Prosser and Penguins right wing Jayson Megna during the third period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov stops a shot in front of Wild defenseman Nate Prosser and  Penguins right wing Jayson Megna during the third period Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
AP - Wild right wing Jason Pominville congratulates goalie Ilya Bryzgalov after they defeated the Penguins Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Wild right wing Jason Pominville congratulates goalie Ilya Bryzgalov after they defeated the Penguins Saturday, April 5, 2014, in St. Paul, Minn.

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By Josh Yohe
Saturday, April 5, 2014, 10:39 p.m.
 

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Goalie Jeff Zatkoff said he “sucked the life” out of his team with a bad performance.

It's probably fair to question how much life the Penguins had to begin with.

Zatkoff allowed three first-period goals, and any intensity the Penguins had drifted away in a 4-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

The Penguins have produced some uninspired efforts since the Olympic break. This qualified as another.

“It's not good,” left wing Tanner Glass said. “Sometimes we're playing good hockey, and sometimes we're not.”

None of the Penguins was pleased, but reality already had seemed to settle in the locker room after the game. The Penguins will be the No. 2 seed when the Eastern Conference playoffs begin April 16 — Boston's victory against Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon clinched the top two spots for the Bruins and Penguins, respectively — and they are ailing.

“There is a bigger picture here,” said Tanner Glass, referring partly to the Wild fighting for their playoff life. “We're resting some guys with bumps and bruises. People are out of the lineup.”

Still, the sporadic play from the Penguins during the past month isn't setting much of a precedent for the postseason, injuries or not. It certainly isn't generating momentum.

Glass acknowledged that turning on the switch when the playoffs begin isn't easy.

“I don't know what to say, really,” he said. “It's not good.”

Zatkoff permitted three goals on six shots in the first period, and the second and third goals — scored by Mikko Koivu and Stephane Veilleux — are ones he would like to have back.

“I actually thought we came out strong,” he said. “The difference was me not making a couple of saves in the first period. I sucked the life out of us right there.”

Coach Dan Bylsma didn't seem horribly displeased with his team's performance, particularly its defensive showing. He said both teams permitted fewer than 10 scoring opportunities.

“There weren't a lot of scoring opportunities,” he said. “We just couldn't generate a lot.”

The Penguins were snuffed on each of their two power-play chances. Captain Sidney Crosby looked strong early but was held without a point and did not register a shot on goal for only the second time this season.

Crosby said two of the Penguins' recent performances — against Carolina and Minnesota — were unacceptable. But he didn't seem rattled.

The Penguins are concerned with the beginning of the postseason — and getting healthy — more than winning a meaningless regular-season game.

“We have to play the right way,” Crosby said. “We know what it is. ... It's a matter of finding that urgency.”

The Penguins play at Colorado on Sunday before returning home against Detroit, Philadelphia and Ottawa.

Those games won't mean anything more than Saturday's loss. The Penguins, though, would prefer to generate momentum before the postseason.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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