Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 3-2 shootout win against the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup banner-raising season-opening contest.
*There is definitely no love lost between these two teams, and the dislike is alive and well. Sparks flew in the first period when Tom Kuhnhackl ran into goaltender Braden Holtby behind the Caps net. That caused a scrum, and even a fight between two Toms - Sestito and Wilson. Things really got ugly late in the second period when Justin Williams grabbed Evgeni Malkin from behind and slammed him into the endboards.
"I saw the puck and tried to shoot," Malkin said. "Maybe I touched Holtby's glove. The puck was available. Why he came behind me and upset, I don't know. It's been a long time with Williams, we've fought a couple of times before. It's a long story. It was a good battle, but I respect him as a player.
"It was like a different sport. I'm OK. It was nothing bad."
Thankfully, Malkin was OK. But the heat was reignited in this rivalry.
*Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury surrendered a goal just 59 seconds into the game on a tough point-blank shot from Andre Burakovsky. After that, Fleury was stellar. He was great in his positioning, stoned Alex Ovechkin on several occasions and did a spinning body save on a Marcus Johansson breakaway. To top it off, he robbed T.J. Oshie from the crease with a lean-back body stack. Fleury finished with 39 saves.
"It was fun," Fleury said. "A tough start. They got a goal early. The first game of the season there are a little bit of nerves trying to get back into it. It was definitely to win in the end."
*Speaking of Sestito, he actually made quite a bit of noise in the game in a non-physical way (he made noise in that category too). He had multiple scoring chances and came close to burying his first goal since Jan. 29, 2014. Sestito had a wide-open cage on one play, but Holtby denied him with a split-pad save. Sestito was a factor in the game for all the right reasons.
*Kris Letang put in a typical day's work of 30:40 minutes.
"We use him in all key situations both offensively and defensively," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "That's why he logs the minutes he logs. That's why for me he's one of the top defensemen in the league.
"I don't think Letang gets the credit he deserves for his defensive play and his play away from the puck. His offense speaks for itself. I don't get he gets nearly enough credit he deserves for how good he is defensively."
*Patric Horqnvist has only one gear, all in. He proved that again with seven hits, one that led to the Pens' second goal.
"He's kind of like a bull in a China closet," Sullivan said. "He goes to the net, he plays in the battle areas, he's good on the boards. He's hard to play against. He's frustrating or our opponents because he's always in the way."
*Great seeing both Trevor Daley and Scott Wilson back in uniform. Both suffered season-ending injuries last year, and both looked very strong in their returns.
*Can these teams play 3-on-3 every time they meet? Please?