Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box of the Penguins' 3-2 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
1. BAIL OUT
I can’t say enough about the play of Matt Murray in this game, which was just his fourth career start. He stood on his head and came up with a number of 10-bell saves to keep his team in this game. The Pens struggled defensively in the third period – to put it mildly – and he was there to bail them out every time. His biggest saves came on breakaways – where he faced three total and stopped them all – but there were a number of other quality chances as well. The Pens asked a lot of their 21-year-old rookie netminder, but he was up for the challenge. They definitely owe him a nice steak dinner after that.
2. BATTLING BACK
Murray is the biggest reason the Pens got a point out of this one, but I do have to credit their resiliency as well. While the Pens went down twice in this game, they battled back both times to even the score. Sidney Crosby led the way offensively. I thought he was tremendous and just playing on that other level that few, if any, are capable of reaching. Not only did he factor in on the score sheet, using his incredible vision to set up Chris Kunitz for a tap-in goal on the power play and scoring one of his own on a 2-on-1 rush where he stopped, lined up his shot and roofed it past Bernier, who remained frozen with his glove up for a few stunned seconds.
3. CLEAN IT UP
I thought there were a lot of positives to take out of this game, especially early. The team came out with a lot of energy and dominated possession for stretches, playing strong through the neutral zone. And they created a ton of chances all game long, and what I liked the most about those is that most of them were off net-front scrambles – which meant they were getting to the net and creating those second and third opportunities, something they had struggled with for a while. But they just could not convert a third. And overall, the Pens were just too sloppy defensively. They allowed way too many odd-man rushes off turnovers and got away from their structure in their own end. They have to clean that up Thursday in Detroit if they want to come away with two points.