Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 2-1 loss against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.
*One player that really stood out in tonight's game to me was Bryan Rust. His speed has become a major factor and a huge asset to the Pens. Not only does he create matchup problems, but he provides a lightning spark on his line.
Rust has improved his game dramatically this season in 1-on-1 battles. He's learned which angles to take and how to accelerate to get around defenders, and it he has been a headache for opponents to handle. Rust had the team's best scoring chance of the night on a breakaway out of the penalty box, but hit the post. Rust is now a player that can create plays singlehandedly.
There's a reason that after the Big 3 - Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel - Rust's name is atop the scoring leaders on the team. And his six points at even strength tied those three afore mentioned fellas.
*Although the first period had good flow and some quality chance for both sides, the final two periods was a much tighter contest. Both teams played well defensively and had sticks in the lanes. Neither side was able to generate much, save for the occasional spurt, in the final 40 minutes. It was a tight game, and that plays more to Minnesota's strengths, than Pittsburgh.
*Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk was everything that he's been advertised. He came up with huge saves throughout the game, whether it was stopping Kessel with his head or Crosby at the side of the net. He stood tall between the pipes for the Wild. Pittsburgh's Matt Murray was also good in the contest. But Dubnyk was one better.