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Snap Shots: Penguins 4, Blues 1

by Sam Kasan @pensinsidescoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 4-1 win against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center.

* This was an odd game in many ways. The first period looked more like a preseason game with the 11:00 a.m. puck drop. Neither team was fully awake and couldn't find their legs. The last two periods were played more like a playoff game: tight checking, little ice, rare quality scoring chances.

The Pens did a great job of grinding this one out against a physical and stingy Blues team. It was a great battle between two teams and the result could have gone either way. The Pens tipped it in their favor. 

* Captain Sidney Crosby broke through for his 400th career NHL goal. It took him 11 games (since scoring No. 399), but it finally happened. Crosby joins Mario Lemieux (690) and Jaromir Jagr (439) as the only players in franchise history to reach the 400 Club.

It wasn't quite a highlight reel goal. Crosby had the puck at the side of the net and somehow stuffed it in through the post and body of goalie Jake Allen. Regardless, it still counts. It was a huge goal in the game, and in Crosby's career. Congrats to Sidney.

* In a tight game like this, it's the little plays that make the biggest difference. Bryan Rust's hustle in pursuing a puck in the neutral zone led to the winning goal. Rust was pressuring Blues defenseman Vince Dunn, who tried to go horizontal with a pass at his own blue line. Rust got his stick on the puck and then had a breakaway. Rust deposited the goal for Pittsburgh.

* Speaking of little plays. Dominik Simon's effort on a forecheck also led to a Pittsburgh tally. Simon pressured defenseman Alex Pietrangelo - a darn good blueliner - behind the net. Simon stole the puck and found Riley Sheahan in the slot to make it 3-1.

* All of a sudden Sheahan looks like he has the best hands on the team. His breakaway goals against Dallas and St. Louis were gorgeous. Hard to believe he went 79 straight games without a goal last season. Sheahan has 10 points (3G-7A) in his past 17 games. Great production from a third-line center.

* The turning point in the game took place in a 40-second sequence in the third period. The Blues thought they scored to take a 2-1 lead early in the third period. But Paul Stastny's stick was above the crossbar. The goal was waved off. Thirty-four seconds later, Rust gave Pittsburgh the lead…for good. Instead of a 2-1 Blues' lead, it became a 2-1 Pittsburgh lead.

* Sometimes for a goaltender the timing of the save is more important than the actual save itself. Goalie Matt Murray was forced to make his best saves in the final minutes of the first and second periods. In each session the Blues had a number of quality scoring chances. Goals late in periods are deflating. Murray's play was a huge boost to the Pens. 

Murray also came up with big stops on a Blues' power play in the third period, and stoned Vladmiir Tarasenko twice right before Rust's go-ahead tally.

* Ryan Reaves played in his 1st game back in St. Louis since the Blues traded him to Pittsburgh last summer. Reaves was drafted by St. Louis in 2005 and played his first 7 NHL seasons with the Blues. It was an emotional return for Reaves. The Blues played a video tribute to him and the fans gave him a standing ovation. He clapped back in appreciation. 

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