Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 4-3 overtime win against the Calgary Flames at PPG Paints Arena.
* When talking to the Pens following the morning skate about what they expected from the Calgary Flames, all of them said it would be a "hard-fought battle." That's exactly what they got.
Pittsburgh jumped out to a 2-0 lead just 185 seconds into the game. That didn't stop the Flames from clawing back with a pair of goals to even the score at 2-2. When the Pens took a 3-2 lead and had all the momentum late in the 2nd period, the Flames responded by tying the game, 3-3, with just 2.4 seconds left in the middle frame.
In the end, the Pens were able to pull out the W on Justin Schultz's nasty blast in overtime. Pittsburgh stays within striking distance (1 point) of the Metro Division title.
* The Pens had production from their backend as 3 of their 4 goals came from defensemen.
* What a few days it's been for defenseman Chad Ruhwedel. He saw his first game action on Saturday since Dec. 27, a stretch of two months. During that time he had to stay mentally tough and focused, remaining ready for when his number would be called. That day came Saturday.
Ruhwedel played so well that he had another crack at the lineup tonight and he responded by scoring the game's opening goal 2:10 into the first period. Ruhwedel took a pass above the circles and whistled a shot through goalie Jon Gillies for the tally.
* Blueliner Kris Letang's play has been much improved as of late. The coaching staff expected him to struggle early in the season after coming off of a major surgery and rehab. They wanted him to work his way through it, and focused mostly on trying to keep Letang from becoming frustrated.
The efforts are starting to pay off. Letang has looked like himself over the past 4 weeks, and seems to get better with each game. He scored a classic Letang goal in the second period, darting down the wing and sniping a shot top shelf, far side. If Letang can stay consistent with his recent play, the Pens' D corps will be a formidable force come April.
* What a rough night for goaltender Tristan Jarry. And I don't mean that in terms of goals against. I mean it in terms of the physical punishment he took from the Flames' forecheck. Jarry was run over on three different occasions - two of those incidents resulted in goalie interference penalties. Goaltenders are expected to fight for their ice space, but not expected to get physically demolished. Jarry kept his cool, was able to shake off the abuse and held down the fort in the Pens' net. It was a mental challenge for the neophyte goalie. He passed the test.
* Evgeni Malkin picked up 3 more points (1G-2A) in the game. He now has 37 goals and 82 points - 3 behind NHL leader Nikita Kucherov. The race is on.