Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins' 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders…
* Matt Murray made his return to the lineup after missing 9 games with a concussion suffered in practice. He showed no signs of rust despite missing a big chunk of time, and was sharp right from the first shift. He had to be, as the Isles tested him early and often, starting with a point blank chance from John Tavares at the top of the crease in the opening minute of play. I think what stood out the most about Murray's performance is how aggressive and competitive he was. He didn't give up on a play.
That was evident on his best sequence of the night, which came in the second period. Anthony Beauvillier had a chance at the side of the net that Murray stopped with his right pad. Beauvillier recovered the puck and wrapped around, finding Mathew Barzal for what looked like an open net. But Murray desperately dove across and was able to make the save. That was just one of many quality chances he turned aside. He certainly did everything he could to give his team a chance to win.
* The Pens hadn't played for four days entering tonight. They've had breaks like this before during the season, and Mike Sullivan's message to the team is that they can't have a wait-and- see attitude, that they've got to get the adrenaline pumping and dictate the terms right away. Unfortunately, they weren't able to do that tonight. The Isles had them back on their heels a lot and got out to a 2-0 lead in the opening 10-plus minutes. The Isles entered tonight with just one win in their past 12 games, and they were hungry to break that streak. They wanted it more, and it showed.
"We didn't have a good start," Sullivan said. "We didn't play with the urgency that we needed to. We didn't defend hard. If you don't defend in this league you can't win and we didn't defend hard enough."
* It didn't help that the Pens got into penalty trouble tonight. The Pens lacked discipline and it kept them from getting into any flow. The Isles had five opportunities in the game, including one early in the third with the Pens trailing 2-1 that they were able to convert. It was a tough break for Murray and the penalty killers, who kept getting called into action and battled hard the whole time. It wasn't always pretty, but they had done a tremendous job of keeping the Isles off the board until that point and had even created a couple of shorthanded chances for themselves, most notably a breakaway for Riley Sheahan.
* That breakaway was one of many missed opportunities for the Pens, who struggled to convert. Their execution was just off tonight and it didn't help the puck was bouncing everywhere. For example, twice Bryan Rust was open at the side of the net and received a pass, but it hopped right over his stick both times. That happened to a few of the guys throughout the course of the night.