Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 4-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks at PPG Paints Arena.
*Sidney Crosby's quest for 1,000 career NHL points took one step closer to fruition. Crosby recorded an assist, a beautiful one at that, to post point No. 999. That puts him within 1 of the historic number.
Crosby set up rookie Jake Guentzel, his new wingmate, on a nifty give-and-go play. Guentzel fed Crosby the puck from the slot to the side of the net. As the Canucks players shifted over, including goaltender Ryan Miller, Crosby sent the puck back to Guentzel, who had an easy tap in.
*Guentzel is one heck of a player. The kid has incredible hockey sense and his playmaking ability is superb. He showed that he can read and play off of superstar talent. He should do well on a wing with either Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
*Malkin returned to the lineup after missing the previous 7 games with a lower-body injury and his impact was felt immediately. Malkin scored the game's opening goal in the 2nd period positioned in the blue paint.
Malkin took a pass from Olli Maatta. The puck went off of his skate and was slithering toward the goal line. Malkin made sure there was no doubt by forcing the puck over the goal line with a second swipe.
Malkin then added another point when he displayed the patience of Job to set up Phil Kessel for a goal. The duo had a 2-on-1 entering the offensive zone. Malkin carried, pulled up around 1 Canuck defender, slid around a 2nd Canuck defender and, at the last possible second, made a perfect pass to Kessel for the put.
*Maatta had one of his best games of the year. Not only did he show initiative to jump into the play when opportunities presented itself in the offensive zone, but he was excellent in the defensive zone. Maatta played strong man-coverage and kept the play to the perimeter.
Maatta also made a fantastic pass through some bodies to find Malkin on the game's opening goal. It was great vision and execution.
*Matt Murray has made some sick saves in his short NHL career thus far. But the glove stop he made on Jack Skille on a breakaway may be one of his finest. Of course, that was the first breakaway save. He also stopped a Skille breakaway in the 3rd period to keep Vancouver scoreless.
Murray finished with 29 saves on all 29 shots against. A perfect performance.
*Congratulations to Trevor Daley for picking up his 200th career assist on Malkin's 2nd-period goal.