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Crosby, Penguins send Wild to blowout loss

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Sidney Crosby and the Penguins undressed the Wild with a 5-2 blowout win at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh Thursday night.

Crosby had two assists to increase his NHL-leading point total to 51 on the season.

He swatted a puck out of the air in front of the goal to set up Chris Kunitz for a 1-nothing lead just 49 seconds into the game. It was the tenth straight game on the road the Wild has given up the first goal.

The score didn't change and the Wild didn't notice the absence of goalie Josh Harding, who will miss a week of action to alter treatment for his multiple sclerosis, until the Penguins torched backup goalie Niklas Backstrom with three goals in the second period.

The onslaught started at the 1:54 mark of the period when Brandon Sutton fired a shot by Backstrom, and less than two minutes later a slapshot by Minnesota native Matt Niskanan found it's way over the top of Backstrom's right shoulder and into the back of the net. The third goal of the period came when Crosby set up Kunitz for a 4-nothing lead.

Trailing 4-1 in the third period, the Wild failed to score on a 5-on-3 power play, and when Pittsburgh's Olli Maatta came out of the box he jumped on the puck for a breakaway and was hooked by Jonas Brodin.

The 19-year-old Maatta took the ensuing penalty shot and beat Backstrom for a 5-2 lead.

Jason Pominville and Dany Heatley scored goals for Minnesota.

Notes: Pittsburgh outshot Minnesota 36-26. The Wild was 0-5 on the power play. The Wild will practice Friday and Saturday before playing in New York against the Rangers on Sunday. Forward Mikael Granlund (concussion) has missed 13 of the last 14 games, but he could return to action in New York.

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