Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins' 4-1 win over the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.
This wasn't the Pens' best effort, especially early. The Avs nearly scored on the first shift of the game off a turnover - Nathan MacKinnon hit the post - and continued to press, creating chance after chance. Fortunately, Matt Murray was up to the challenge. He was locked in from the beginning and made clutch, timely saves throughout the game to keep his team in it. He looked poised and sharp turning aside each quality chance, particularly a breakaway from MacKinnon.
Overall, as head coach Mike Sullivan said, "I don't think it was one of our better games as of late. Certainly we're happy with the result, but that's probably where it ends." Sullivan felt like his team played loose and needed to be better with their commitment to playing away from the puck, and I agree.
It's the first game of the Dads' Trip, and Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel, Matt Cullen and Justin Schultz all had big nights on the scoresheet with their fathers in attendance. Gosta Hornqvist, Phil Kessel Sr., Terry Cullen and Glenn Schultz were all watching from a suite as Patric scored twice, Phil Jr. had a goal and an assist and Matt and Justin had two helpers.
The Pens lost winger Bryan Rust late in the second period. He was driving to the net when Crosby hit him with a pass he tried to deflect in. As Rust was reaching for it, Avs defenseman Mark Barbiero cross-checked him hard and sent him flying into goalie Calvin Pickard and into the net. Rust was slow to get up, went straight to the locker room and did not return.
On a positive note, there were a lot of Pens fans in the stands here in Colorado - including a very special one. Twelve-year-old Danjela Belo was shown on the video board holding a sign that said "I'm a brain cancer champion here to see my Stanley Cup champions," and the crowd vigorously cheered their support. The sign caught the attention of the Pens, who invited Danjela and her family to come down to the locker room after the game.