Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 6-1 win against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
*The Pens had one of the greatest possession sequences I've ever seen, and I'm not even being hyperbolic. It started with the Guentzel-Malkin-Kessel line and was finished off with a goal by the Hagelin-Crosby-Sheary line. The Pens looked like they were working a power play, and by the end they practically were as the Rangers were so tired that they couldn't apply any pressure. Pittsburgh held the puck in the offensive zone for over 2 minutes and managed to make a complete 5-man change. Sheary ended things with a sweet snap shot from the circle.
*Although it looked like a convincing Pittsburgh victory, the game was much closer than it appeared (just like the Pens' 5-2 loss on Monday to the Rangers). New York is for real. And they are the deadliest transition team I've seen this season. At every opportunity the Rangers are looking to counter attack, and they caught the Pens on several occasions to generate an odd-man rush. Luckily for the Pens, Matt Murray was there to bail them out. This would be a tremendous playoff matchup.
*Crosby, who potted 2 goals in the game, has an NHL-best 14 goals … in 14 games. His goal production this year is stupid. Sure he's gotten some puck luck (like his second goal that went off of Ryan McDonagh's stick on a pass attempt), but he's also creating his own luck.
*Speaking of Crosby, I loved seeing him stick up for linemate Sheary after McDonagh ran him into the boards from behind. Crosby immediately went after McDonagh in defense of his teammate. Great leadership.
*Huge props to Murray. He wasn't just making huge saves, but clutch saves. The timing is almost more important than the save itself. With the game still tied at 1-1, Murray stopped Michael Graber, who has 12 goals this year, on a breakaway. Then he stopped Rick Nash with a diving, split glove stop. That kept it a 1-1 game and allowed the Pens to ring off four straight tallies in the middle frame to take a 5-1 lead. The final score may have been lopsided, but that's only because Murray made it that way.
*Speaking of poetic timing, in the first period I asked a fellow Pens' staffer when the last time was that we saw the patented "Kessel streaking down the side and ripping in a nasty goal"? The answer: at 10:12 of the second period.
*Kessel also picked up an assist in the game. He now has a team-leading 15 on the year, one behind NHL-leader Connor McDavid. Phil the Philanthropist.
*It's good seeing Scott Wilson get back in the scoring column, his first goal in 12 games.