Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 4-2 loss against the New York Rangers at PPG Paints Arena.
*The Pens and Rangers featured a battle between the top two teams in the Metro Division standings. Only two points separated the two teams entering the game, but the Rangers distanced themselves with the victory, putting the Pens four points behind.
*After being eliminated by the Pens in the First Round last season, the Rangers tried to mimic Pittsburgh's style. So they went out and acquired Michael Grabner, Mika Zibanejad (missed game against Pittsburgh with injury) and Jimmy Vesey to improve their team speed. It worked. The Rangers have become one of the fastest teams in the league and it was an interesting matchup as both teams tried to play with quickness while being aggressive in their transition game.
*The story of the game was certainly rookie Jake Guentzel's NHL debut, which featured his first career goal on his first career shot on his first career shift. He followed that up with another tally and really shone on the big stage. Michelle Crechiolo has more on him here.
*Speaking of Guentzel, another shout out to Pens management staff (scouts, development staff and hockey operations department) for another great prospect find. I know it's only his first game, but he looks like a good one. And he's another piece grown in-house to join Brian Dumoulin, Bryan Rust, Scott Wilson, Tom Kuhnhackl, Conor Sheary and Matt Murray.
*The Pens had one of the best opening periods of the entire season. Not only did they net two goals and take a 2-0 lead into the intermission, but they were completely dominant. They should have scored at least five. Sidney Crosby could have scored twice on one shift (I know that's technically impossible, but you know what I mean). The Rangers played last evening and Pittsburgh pounced early.
*As good as the Pens' first period was, that was the second period for the Rangers. New York did not have as many quality scoring chances as Pittsburgh in the game, but it was more opportunistic. The Rangers made the most of their chances by burying three in the middle frame. That made all the difference.
*During the contest Pens fans and the Penguins Foundation donated more than $32,000 to the family of fallen police officer Scott Bashioum of Canonsburg. Officer Bashioum, who was also a military veteran, was tragically killed in the line of duty on Nov. 10. Fans wishing to contribute can visit www.pittsburghpenguinsfoundation.org.