Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins' 2-1 overtime loss against the Edmonton Oilers at PPG Paints Arena.
* It was the matchup that hockey world wants to see: Crosby v. McDavid. Two generational talents facing each other for the "best player in the world" crown. Today's game marked the seventh meeting between the two clubs, and it marked the first time McDavid's Oilers got the best of Crosby's Penguins.
Pittsburgh had won the previous six games when both men were in the lineup. The Penguins are still 6-0-1, netting 13 of a possible 14 points against Edmonton. But today it wasn't meant to be.
* The Penguins deserved to get two points and a win in this game. And in the same breath, they were lucky to even walk away with one point. Pittsburgh completely dominated the game, outshooting the Oilers, 52-28, and drastically out-possessing the Oilers. This should have been a blowout in the Penguins' favor.
* With all the firepower in both lineups, of course this turned into a goaltenders' duel. Both netminders played spectacularly, with Edmonton's Mike Smith playing outrageous. Honestly, I know goaltenders can steal a game, but Smith's heroics were on par with robbing three Las Vegas casinos in an Oceans One scheme.
Smith made 51 saves in the game, and many of those were of the high-quality variety. He was especially effective with his blocker and glove. After he was deked to the ice by Crosby in the first period, Smith reached back to get his paddle on the puck for a stop. Then on a Pittsburgh power-play sequence, Smith stopped Jake Guentzel at the side of the net with a split-toe save, followed by a glove save on a bullet from Evgeni Malkin. It was that kind of night.
I've seen goaltenders play out of their minds against the Penguins to steal a game. But this may have been by far the most ridiculous display of netminding that I can remember.
* Speaking of Malkin, he returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with a lower-body injury. He provided a spark to the team, making plays all over the offensive zone, and more important, was making good decisions with the puck. Malkin's presence had a big impact on the power play…
* Pittsburgh's power play was about as dominant as a power play can be without scoring a goal. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. Watch all five Penguins opportunities and you will be left befuddled and scratching your head in amazement that they didn't manage to score. Reread the above entry on Mike Smith for the reason.
The Penguins' puck movement was crisp, their shot selection was smart and they generated scoring chance after scoring chance after scoring chance. There's a lot to build on from this game and they should be happy with the momentum it provided. However, with the recent lack of success what this team really needs is a goal. And it could have been the difference in today's contest.
* If you didn't watch the game, I'll give you 12 guesses as to which Penguin scored their lone goal and I bet you still wouldn't be able to mark the offender. Actually, I'll give you 15 guess and you still probably wouldn't get it. It was Dumoulin the defender. That's Brian Dumoulin, a man of 10 career goals in 328 games coming into the contest. And to make it all the more improbable, it came off of a shorthanded rush.
The Penguins penalty killers jumped on an Oilers turnover for a counter attack. Dumoulin is no Kris Letang, but he smartly jumped up on the play to create a 3-on-1. Bryan Rust dropped the puck to him in the slot and whipped it past Smith.
* Marcus Pettersson had a gutsy performance in the game. In the first period he laid out his leg to block a shot from sniper James Neal. And in the waning moments of regulation, Pettersson dove in front of a McDavid shot in the slot to prevent a scoring chance for the dynamo.