The Minnesota Wild aren't off to a great start to the 2011-2012 season, and Tuesday night's loss to the Pittsburgh Penguin epitomizes that perfectly. They were up against a Penguins team that was without top centers Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Evgeni Malkin (knee), top defenseman Kris Letang (suspension), top-four defenseman Brooks Orpik and forward Tyler Kennedy. Pittsburgh would call up Brian Strait from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but he ended up going down with an upper-body injury in the second period.
In other words, the Wild should have pounced on the opportunity to beat a team without some of its premier star talent. Instead, they served as a means for the Penguins to overcome adversity and impress the rest of the league. The Penguins took the lead just 46 seconds into the game with a Chris Kunitz goal and from there, they didn't let up.
Despite five power plays, the Wild didn't convert on any of them, and haven't done so in their last 10 tries. They're 3-for-23 overall with the man advantage, a staggering stat when you have had so much time with the advantage. It was a Penguins team lacking leadership and probably even confidence, and a strong power play is exactly what would have put the Wild ahead in that game.
They'll need to do a better job against the Houston Oilers on Thursday, a struggling unit who would be certainly more susceptible to losing steam after a power play goal, but who have only given up three of them so far through five games. They're 2-3 on the season and lost their last outing to the Calgary Flames.