Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 2-1 overtime loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
*Goaltender Matt Murray jumped a mental hurdle with a stellar performance against Columbus. The last time Murray played in Nationwide Arena, Dec. 22, he was pulled after surrendering 6 goals. He exorcised those demons with a brilliant effort.
Murray made 2 huge saves in the final minute of regulation to keep it a 1-1 game, stopping Boone Jenner with the blocker and then Pittsburgh-native Brandon Saad on a free break down the middle lane.
Although he suffered the loss, Murray can keep his head up. He helped the Pens steal a point in the contest.
*Captain Sidney Crosby picked up his 1,000th career point on Thursday. Less than 24 hours later Evgeni Malkin hit a milestone of his own. Malkin recorded his 500th career assist when he set up an Ian Cole goal in the 2nd period. Malkin has been on fire since returning from a lower-body injury. He has 5 points (2G-3A) in 3 games.
*Cole, not known for his goal-scoring process, picked up his 4th of the season and 1st goal in 13 games when his quick wrist shot from the blue line sneaked through goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
*The score may have been down, but that was no reflection of the game. Consider that the Pens hit 3 posts and the Jackets had 2 goals waved off (1 was pretty clear on a delayed penalty call). It's not like chances weren't there to be had.
*The Pens had a lot of lineup adjustments. With Olli Maatta out for 6 weeks following hand surgery and Justin Schultz out indefinitely with a concussion, Pittsburgh inserted Chad Ruhwedel and Steve Oleksy into the lineup. Pittsburgh finally had some continuity on defense with regular pairings in the past couple of weeks, but now it'll have to adjust to some moving parts for now.
*While the Pens may be down 2 defensemen, they did get back 1 forward. Carl Hagelin returned to action after missing 5 contests with a concussion. Hagelin's speed was immediately noticeable. He seemed to have an extra gear tonight, maybe adrenaline from his return. Hagelin provided a huge spark to his line with Malkin and Patric Hornqvist.
*Although the atmosphere was intense - as expected when the Pens and Jackets face off against each other - it wasn't an overly physical affair. Most of the matches between these 2 teams the players taking an absolute beating. While there were certainly hits and physical play, it was pretty tame by the standards that we normally see between these 2 rivals.