Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 4-3 overtime win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at PPG Paints Arena.
*This was an incredible heavyweight battle between 2 of the best teams in the entire NHL. If they do meet in the playoffs, it will be a treat to watch, and a war on the ice. Neither team dominated in the contest with both having stretches of control and momentum. These are 2 evenly matched teams and a showcase of hockey's at its finest.
*This win was about redemption for the Pens. The last time these teams met the Pens were shellacked by Columbus, 7-1. Pittsburgh didn't want to just even the score, but wanted to redeem their performance from that night. They pulled that off by defeating Columbus in overtime and the entire bench emptied after Phil Kessel's overtime winner. That's how much this game meant to the Pens.
*Speaking of Kessel, it was quite a night for No. 81. Not only did he score the game-winner in overtime, but added another goal and assist for a 3-point night. Throw in the fact that the game was also his 800th career contest and this night was all about Phil.
*The Pens orchestrated the greatest shift of the season during the first period against the Blue Jackets. During a span of 70 seconds, the team held the puck in the offensive zone, skated circles around the Jackets and won every puck battle. Kessel ended the play emphatically with a nasty snipe from the circles for a poetic exclamation mark.
*Matt Murray made the save of the season in the second period. As the Pens were breaking out of their zone they turned the puck over, resulting in a 2-on-0 for Brandon Saad and Nick Foligno, 2 of the Jackets' best goal scorers. As Saad made a pass across to Foligno, Murray slid over on his pad and denied Foligno of a goal.
*Matt Cullen returned to the lineup after missing the previous 6 games with a broken foot, although he returned to find himself a new role. Instead of centering the team's fourth line, due to the injury to winger Conor Sheary, Cullen was placed on the top line with Sidney Crosby.
Cullen made an immediate impact. Late in the first period the 40-year-old showed he still has the legs to keep up with the young guys by splitting 2 Jackets while driving to the net. Even getting pulled down didn't stop Cullen from getting off a shot and even his own rebound. The puck was rolling toward the goal line when Patric Hornqvist jammed it home, although Cullen deserves 99.999% of the credit for doing the bulk of the work.