Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 2-1 shootout loss against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre.
*The biggest takeaway from tonight's game is that the Pens gutted out another point with half of their lineup out due to injury. Despite having 9 regulars hurt, Pittsburgh improved to 8-1-2 in their last 11.
Head coach Mike Sullivan said he loves the team's "compete level" right now. I'm sure he's just as delighted with their results.
*The Pens and Sens rivalry in the early days of the Sidney Crosby era were pretty intense and spectacular, fueled 3 playoff matchups in 4 seasons. Though the rivalry has dimmed since then, it was like the old days in tonight's contest.
There was a lot of nastiness being dished out from both sides. Chad Ruhwedel tackled Alex Burrows after he jabbed at goaltender Matt Murray. Ian Cole and Kyle Turris had a headlock battle in the corner. Frank Corrado dropped the gloves with Tommy Wingels (though it didn't escalate to an actual fight). Finally Crosby got into it after a whistle with Zach Smith. Crosby even chopped off part of Marc Methot's finger.
It was a heated affair between the 2 teams, something we haven't seen in a while. It made for some entertaining hockey.
*It's late in the season. So you know what that means? It's Nick Bonino time.
Bonino scored his 16th goal of the season, and first on the power play, to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.
Bonino now has 7 goals in his last 9 games, and 9 points in his past 11 contests. Last season Bonino posted 16 points (5G-11A) in his last 15 regular-season games before going on to dominate in the postseason.
Looks like Bonino is gearing up for a repeat of last season.
*The Pens knew that patience would have to be part of their demeanor for this evening's game. Pittsburgh loves to play with speed, while Ottawa wants to trap things down with the 1-3-1.
History shows that the Pens tend to get frustrated against trapping teams that take away their speed and skill. The Pen then begin to force passes and plays in the neutral zone, which leads to turnovers and great scoring opportunities against.
However, the Pens mental game was strong against the Senators. They were like a prizefighter trying to go the distance and win a war of attrition. Pittsburgh was patient, persistent and consistent.
The Pens played well enough to win, especially in overtime. But it just wasn't meant to be.