Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 4-3 overtime loss to Colorado on Monday at PPG Paints Arena…
- It was a quiet locker room after this game. Although the Pens salvaged a point, overall they weren't happy with their play. They've certainly been generating a lot of offense and quality scoring chances, but are giving up a lot as well. And that's what needs to get cleaned up moving forward - their play away from the puck.
"It was a weird game," Matt Cullen told me. "We had stretches where we were really good and controlled the play, and then we had stretches where we were awful. ... There was a lot of just ups and downs. Regardless of how you put it, we had the game in control with 7 or 8 minutes left. We're better than how we played tonight."
- There is nothing Pens fans love more than a good penalty kill, and they got one in the third period when their team was tasked with killing off a lengthy 5-on-3. Marc-Andre Fleury was phenomenal in net, making save after save while the guys in front of him made huge blocks. However, at the end of the night the Pens gave up two power-play goals - including the tying tally that sent the game into overtime.
"We just need to clean it up," Cullen said when I asked him what needed to improve. "We're three games into the season, but we're dealing with a lot of the same people killing. We need to be better. We all know that and we expect a lot better out of ourselves. It's frustrating when we give up the goal that sends it into overtime. So yeah, we'll go back to the drawing board a little bit and look at some video and hopefully tighten some things up."
- Cullen also mentioned overall, the Pens need to do a better job of staying out of the box. He, the rest of the penalty killers and Fleury have been getting put in real tough situations. You give any team a two-man advantage, and odds are they're going to score. I thought the Pens did the best they could given the circumstances. Moving forward, they've just got to be more disciplined.
- There was a lot of special teams action in this game, as the Pens scored two power-play goals of their own. They've been strong on the man-advantage to start the season despite being without Sidney Crosby. Phil Kessel has the hottest hand with two of the four. Both of them have been pretty simple - he's been getting the puck on the left side and has been putting it on net. He's one of the best snipers in the league, and is so hard to defend in that scenario. Later on, the second unit came up with a huge goal off the stick of Trevor Daley to take a 3-2 lead.
- Conor Sheary was the talk of the Pens' 3-2 win over Anaheim on Saturday, with his goal and countless other chances. However, this game it's his veteran linemates that deserve some love as well. Cullen and Chris Kunitz were tremendous in the offensive zone, working the cycle and getting the puck on net. They combined to score the Pens' first goal with some hard work in front. Those guys may be in their late 30s, but they're playing like they're in their 20s.
- Eric Fehr had another strong game. He made an excellent defensive play during a 5-on-3 power play for Colorado in the first period. Avs center Nathan MacKinnon was wide open on the back door, and was about to receive the puck on his stick with Fleury down and out. Fehr lunged back and poked it away, saving what looked to be a sure goal. The 6-foot-4 center has such a tremendous reach, and is really using it to his advantage.