Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 5-3 loss against the NY Islanders at Barclay Center.
*The Pens mounted a spirited third-period comeback by netting three goals to erase a 3-0 deficit and even the game at 3-3. However, the Islanders struck with 26.6 seconds left in regulation to take the win. Despite the effort, Pittsburgh ends up with zero points from the game.
*The Pens have the offensive firepower to comeback in any situation. They dug themselves a deep hole and managed to pull even. But it was too little, too late. They can't expect to spot teams significant leads and hope to pull off a miracle. This time they were burned.
*Want to see leadership? Watch Sidney Crosby in the third period, starting from the first shift. His team looked uninspired through two periods and trailed 3-0 entering the final frame. Crosby, leading by example, exploded out of the gate. His relentless hustle to a loose puck around defenseman Travis Hamonic led to Pittsburgh's first goal just 32 seconds into the period. It was a diving effort in the offensive zone by Crosby that ended with the Pens' third and game-tying goal. Crosby led, the Pens followed.
*The Pens have boasted one of the NHL's best penalty kill units over the past decade. But they're having an uncharacteristically rough start to the season, ranking 27th in the league entering tonight. But the unit came up huge late in the second period by killing off a 1:57-minute, 5-on-3 man-advantage, and doing so without one of its best killers (with Matt Cullen in the box). Thanks in large part to a sick, desperation glove save by Matt Murray on John Tavares.
*Patric Hornqvist returned to the lineup for the first time since missing the previous 6 games with a concussion. I asked him in the morning if there would be any hesitation on the ice due to the sensitivity of concussions, and he said, "If I have any hesitation out there I won't play the game I want to play."
I can assure you that Hornqvist had zero hesitation. He was playing physical, creating scrums, battling at the net, spraying the goaltender and laying out his body to block shots. Since it was a blocked shot off of his head that caused the concussion, it's good to see him playing his usual, typical fearless hockey.
*Evgeni Malkin has improved immensely while working the point on the power play. Early in his career he was a liability in that spot, particularly defensively. But he's grown into the role. He made three tremendously skilled plays (with his stick and skates) to keep pucks in the zone. He also perfectly defended a 1-on-1 against on Cal Clutterbuck. Malkin looks much more comfortable now on the point and it's translating into his game.