Winless Wild aim to write off Pens in home opener

Field Level Media

The Minnesota Wild will be looking for their first win overall and the Pittsburgh Penguins vie for their first road victory on Saturday when the teams meet Saturday in Saint Paul, Minn.

The Wild are 0-3-0 after three road games while the Penguins have posted a 2-2-0 mark after four home contests.

Pittsburgh, regardless of the venue, would like to bottle its performance Thursday in a 2-1 win over previously unbeaten Anaheim.

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The Penguins, who are playing without a handful of regular forwards because of injury, played a tight, disciplined game that left them feeling good about themselves.

"We're going to have to win games like that throughout the year," said forward Jake Guentzel, who scored the deciding goal.

"Everyone battled, and everyone competed. That's a game we need to win."

Something else they will more than likely need with forwards Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust, Nick Bjugstad and Alex Galchenyuk sidelined by injury, is team captain Sidney Crosby replicating his performance from Thursday.

Crosby scored Pittsburgh's first goal, set up Guentzel's tally with a singular effort carrying the puck up the ice and generally was strong all game.

"He's such an inspiration when he plays the game as hard as he does, as he does on most nights. I thought he was a force at both ends of the rink," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

Crosby has recorded 57 goals and 158 points in 132 career games when playing without fellow former Hart Trophy recipient Malkin, who is on long-term injured reserve because of an undisclosed lower-body ailment.

Goaltender Matt Murray has played all four Penguins games. With the team's first set of back-to-back games this weekend, backup Tristan Jarry stands a good chance of getting his first start of the season.

If Murray plays Saturday, he will be bidding for his 100th career win. He made 31 saves against Anaheim and was thrilled with his team's performance.

"It was an important game for us," Murray said. "It's still early in the season, but we're trying to keep hardening our identity, and I think that's what we did."

Pittsburgh will be playing the team under the guidance of new general manager Bill Guerin, who won a Stanley Cup as a player with the Penguins and most recently was their assistant GM.

If the Wild are going to give Guerin his first career win as a general manager in their home opener, finding more scoring would be a good start.

Minnesota has scored two goals in each of its three games, most recently a 5-2 loss Thursday at Winnipeg.

"Just right now it's not comfortable as far as offensive confidence," Wild center Eric Staal told the Minnesota Star Tribune. "But you've got to put in the work and the time, and it was better (Thursday)."

The Wild also have losses at Colorado and Nashville, so the Penguins will represent a break from games within the Central Division.

"They've been three road games against three tough teams," Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Granted, we would have liked to have won one or two of them. But now we get to go home. No excuses. Now we've got a home game. So you're not giving up after three games. ... We'll get it together."

-- Field Level Media

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