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Snap Shots: Penguins 5, Blue Jackets 4 (OT)

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins' 5-4 overtime win against Columbus.

* This was an important game for both teams, and that was evident in their level of play. Both sides brought it tonight. There was a ton of energy, emotion, intensity and of course, chippiness. Everybody left it all out on the ice and the matchup certainly had the playoff-like atmosphere that everyone expected it to have. This morning, Mike Sullivan told me that his message to the team heading into the game was just to embrace the challenge, get excited about it and play the way they're capable of. They definitely took that to heart tonight.

* The Pens played from behind all game, but I loved the pushback, resiliency and character they showed in coming back to get the two points. It's not always easy to battle back, especially on the road in a hostile environment. But they did a good job of staying even-keeled and just focusing on what they needed to do to get back into the game. For the most part, they were calm, composed and laser-focused.

"We talked about how over the course of the game, some things aren't going to go our way and we just have to make sure we respond the right way," Sullivan said. "I thought to a man, our guys stayed with it. We just kept playing the game. As a result, I think we end up with the win that we got. It was a real good hockey game against a good team."

* Matt Murray told me that Conor Sheary's tying goal that forced overtime was representativr of the Pens' performance. It was an incredible individual effort which started when he used his speed to win a race to a puck in the defensive zone and then get up the ice for a semi-breakaway. His first attempt was denied, but Sheary put in his own rebound. "I thought Shears' goal was kind of a metaphor for the game with just how it looks like he's out of it but he just bangs it in. It's a heck of a goal for us."

* Both clubs were clutch when it came to special teams. But the Pens' power play came up especially big when the team needed it most. After converting their first man-advantage, the Pens got a huge opportunity late in the second period and trailing 3-2. They couldn't get it done that time, but they got another chance shortly after and that time, they would not be denied.

* Phil Kessel can really fire the pill. He scored twice, including the overtime game-winner, with two of his trademark releases. "There aren't too many guys who can score that goal," Sullivan said. "The puck comes off his stick differently. It just does. He has such a deceptive release, he's so accurate, the velocity on it - it's as hard a wrist shot as I've ever seen. When he shoots the puck like that he's dangerous. I thought Phil was good all night long. He had a significant influence on the game."

* The Pens didn't play a perfect game. They made their share of mistakes and a few of them ended up in the back of their net. But while there's certainly parts of the penalty kill and their defensive-zone play they need to clean up, overall, it was a solid effort.

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