Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 4-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
*The Pens and Leafs were a competition of speed-on-speed. Both teams can fly, are highly skilled and love to play an up-tempo style. The game played out that way. The game way pretty close through the first two periods, but after Chris Kunitz gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 in the final minute of the second period, the Pens were in complete control of the game and dominated the third frame. If it weren't for the spectacular goaltending of Frederik Andersen, Pittsburgh may have won by a touchdown.
* It was incredible how many chances the Pens created. Early on, it looked like it had the potential to be of those nights where they were snake-bitten because they were having trouble getting those chances to fall and Andersen was playing outstanding. But the Pens continued to create and as Sidney Crosby always said, trust that they'll eventually go in. And they did. The Pens were skating, moving, getting to the net and hitting the net and the Leafs didn't have an answer for them.
* Mike Sullivan shook up his lines, opting to go with the four he used during the majority of the Pens' Stanley Cup championship run to hopefully spread out the offense more. And I thought that's exactly what happened. Every trio but Matt Cullen's managed to score, and I thought guys like Bryan Rust got kick-started by the changes.
* Rust had a tremendous game. He did the heavy lifting on the Pens' second goal, which was important considering the timing (with just 17.7 seconds left in the second period) and the significance (it gave Pittsburgh its first lead). Rust was right there in the blue paint, creating chaos and traffic in front of Andersen. It allowed Kunitz to find some space and get a shot on goal.
*Goaltender Matt Murray played an excellent game, but he was at his best during a Pens' power play. Yes, a power play. During one power-play sequence in the second period the Pens surrendered three two-on-one rushes against. Although the first attempted shot went wide, Murray was forced to make two difficult saves on the latter opportunities. The game was still tied at 1-1 and shorthanded goal against would have been devastating.
*Phil Kessel has now played his former Toronto club four times since being traded to Pittsburgh in the summer of 2015. And he has scored zero points against the Leafs. Kessel was absolutely robbed on a play in the third period. He took a cross ice pass along the goal line and snapped off a quick shot. It was blocked by Matt Hunwick. Kessel got his own rebound and had a completely open-net look. But as he shot the puck Andersen came diving across the crease to make the save.
*A scary moment turned into a comical moment in the first period. Kris Letang was skating toward the bench when the puck came sliding at his skates. Letang tried to hop over the puck without touching it, otherwise the Pens would have been called for a too-many-men penalty. But as he hoped the bench door opened and Letang took a header through the door. Don't worry, he was OK. And watching goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury laugh about it was priceless.