Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 4-3 win against Columbus at Nationwide Arena.
* Pens fans are well aware of Daniel Sprong and his capabilities. But something that's really stood out to me watching him in the current preseason is his willingness to put the puck on net, at any time and any given situation. If there's a broken play, puck on net. If he's at a bad angle, puck on net. If he has no other play and no space, puck on net.
During a contest against Buffalo in the Prospects Challenge Sprong attempted 20 shots in the game, 15 of which ended up on net. Sprong has one of the nastiest releases on the entire Pens' roster. Any time he shoots the puck, good things will happen. Including his goal against Columbus.
* Another guy that was putting the puck on the net was forward Zach Aston-Reese. He picked up two points in the game with a goal and assist. Both of his points came on what appeared to be non-consequential plays. On the first, Aston-Reese sent a lazy backhander on net that Sergei Bobrovsky misplayed and Sprong poked in. For his tally, Aston-Reese took a bad angle shot from along the halfwall that sailed far post on Matiss Kivlenieks.
* Sam Miletic is trying to follow in the footsteps of Alex D'Orio and Jordan Bellerive. Both of those players went undrafted, attended the Pens' Development Camp and Prospects Challenge and earned themselves contracts with the team. Miletic also was undrafted, and attended the Development Camp and Prospects Challenge.
Miletic, 20, is an intriguing prospect. He has a knack for scoring goals, something he did 37 times last year with London of the Ontario Hockey League. He flashed some of those quick hands against the Blue Jackets, finding a pass-off-pads rebound and snapping home the rebound.
Miletic is a late-bloomer that was groomed in the USHL before arriving in London. He's a long-range prospect, but the payoff could be huge.
Head coach Mike Sullivan said, "He's the kind of player that grows on you." That he doesn't wow you but "he's always in the right places."
* There was an interesting play in the third period with goaltender Antti Niemi. During a save Niemi lost his glove, which should draw an automatic whistle from the officials for a stoppage in play. However, the refs did not stop the game. Niemi, to his credit, continued to play. Instinctively, Niemi made a save with his exposed hand. Thankfully there was no damage done.
The referees told Niemi that this season officials will not stop play for goaltenders that lose a blocker or glove, though the rule will still be enforced with a lost helmet. That didn't give Sullivan any consolation. He said, "I wish they had blown the whistle."
* There were fewer penalties called in tonight's game than in the previous two. And only three slashing and zero face-off violations. Either the league figures that it made its point and is backing off the calls, or the players are adapting. Either way, it's a win for everybody, especially the pace of the game.