Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 4-2 win over the New York Islanders at PPG Paints Arena...
- Marc-Andre Fleury was, without question, the star of this game. Not only did the Pens give up a high volume of shots (37), a lot of those were high quality scoring chances created by a speedy and skilled Islanders team. Fortunately, the Pens goaltender was feeling it. He was unbelievable all night long, making incredible save after save. If it weren't for him, the Pens probably wouldn't have been in this game.
- The Pens knew how dangerous the Isles are on transition - head coach Mike Sullivan talked this morning about how his team would need to make good decisions and not feed their opponent's game - but they still got burned a few times. The Isles scored their first goal when Trevor Daley pinched down low to have a great scoring chance of his own and got it blocked, sending New York quickly went the other way. On one hand, you like that the Pens D were involved in the offense and playing with a lot of confidence. On the other hand, guys need to make sure they're getting back to cover and not leaving their goalie to deal with such tough situations. Fortunately, he was up to the task.
- In their last game against Florida, the Pens got into penalty trouble early - which resulted in them going down 2-0 before their eventual 3-2 comeback win. And tonight, it looked like the Pens were going to reverse that trend as they drew a penalty on the first shift and scored on the subsequent power play. However, that lack of discipline started to creep back into their game as it progressed. They took four penalties in the second and it hurt them. The Pens have been talking for a long time about staying out of the box. Eventually, they need to start doing that consistently.
- Another thing the guys have been talking about the last few days is having better starts. And for the most part, they did that, buoyed by that early power play. After a somewhat rough second, the Pens came out much better to start the third, absolutely dominating the Isles in possession - holding them to just one shot in the first 10-plus minutes. I loved how the Pens' best players were just that when their team needed them most, stepping up and leading the response to a bad bounce that resulted in the Isles tying the score at 2-2. Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel each scored to give the Pens a 4-2 win.
- When the Pens were on, I think what stood out to me the most is just how everyone looked to be on the same page. They were reading and reacting off each other so well, their passes were crisp and their execution was good. It resulted in a lot of offensive zone time and a lot of cycling while down there.