Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins' 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at PPG Paints Arena…
* This will be a night that Nathan Legare will never forget, as the 18-year-old rookie scored his first two (preseason) goals just 23 seconds apart.
"It's a special feeling," he said.
The reason the Pens traded up to take Legare in the third round of this summer's draft is because he's a natural goal scorer who has a wicked shot and strong offensive instincts.
He's shown an ability to score at the junior level, potting 45 goals last season with Baie-Comeau of the QMJHL, which ranked second in the league. And if tonight is any indication, it looks like that ability will translate to the professional level when the time comes.
"Nathan had a great game tonight," Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. "His ability to shoot the puck has been obvious and really jumped out at all of us. He can finish. He can really shoot it. And he likes to shoot it. Tonight was a great example of it. He's had a great camp so far."
His first goal came off an offensive-zone faceoff, where he battled for a bouncing puck and managed to get it at the net. The second goal came after he drifted into open space, received a pass and whipped it at the cage with no hesitation. Legare works every day on his shot, and it shows.
"I think it's just the mentality that you go on the ice and shoot the puck and go at the net," he explained. "In the first period, I was thinking a little bit and the play was not there. But as the game advanced more and more, I didn't think and it was good for me."
Legare wasn't just noticeable on the scoresheet. I loved how he didn't hesitate to take the puck to the crease and receive some contact in the process. He also wasn't afraid to mix it up, initiating a scuffle with Scott Harrington after the Columbus defenseman knocked him down at the net.
* Alex Galchenyuk looked terrific in his first game action wearing a Penguins jersey, opening the scoring on the power play in the first period.
That's an area of the game Sullivan expects Galchenyuk to be a big contributor, saying that he's shown an ability to score goals and can really shoot the puck. Which is exactly what he did after taking a beautiful cross-ice pass from Jake Guentzel and firing it into the net.
"Jake made a nice pass across, and it was a good screen by Horny (Patric Hornqvist)," Galchenyuk said. "I decided to take a shot and I saw an opening, and I'm happy it went in. On the power play, when you've got the shot, you've got to make sure you take it."
It's just one game, but Galchenyuk seems to be a great fit in Pittsburgh so far. He's an exciting player who seems to be really developing some good chemistry with Evgeni Malkin.
"I think they have the potential to be a real good tandem," Sullivan said.
* Speaking of Malkin, the other day he talked about how he wants to come back at his highest level and dominate in all facets of his game - power skating, stickhandling, scoring, faceoffs and his play in the D zone.
I thought what stood out the most was the latter. Malkin was relentless on the puck in his own end. On two separate occasions he hounded a defenseman on the point, forced a turnover with an active stick and jumped onto the puck, carrying it up the ice and starting a couple of odd-man rushes.
Overall, Malkin looked really, really strong. He came to training camp in terrific shape and that really came across tonight.