Wild power past uninspired Penguins, 4-0
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.