Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 7-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.
*After the Pens lost their 3rd straight game last week to Detroit, Evgeni Malkin told the media that Pittsburgh would rebound and win 3 straight. Guess what? Pittsburgh rebounded and won 3 straight.
*The Hurricanes had some difficulty at clearing pucks from their zone. On several occasions they had options to get the puck out, but made the wrong read and the Pens were able to intercept those attempts. It cost the Canes twice in the game. Teuvo Teravainen's clear attempt in the first period was snatched by Trevor Daley, who then scored on a bomb from above the circles. A failed clear along the boards ended up in the Carolina net when Chris Kunitz jammed in a loose puck.
*Speaking of Daley, what an incredible effort to thwart Sebastian Aho's breakaway chance. Daley pinched in the offensive zone to get off a great chance, but the Hurricanes countered. Daley backtracked all the way to catch Aho and forced him to take a bad angle shot.
*Conor Sheary will likely finish the season as a 20-goal scorer. He posted 2 against the Canes, 1 from the slot and another off of a nice spinning, backhand feed from Sidney Crosby. The Pens scouting staff deserve credit for finding a diamond in the rough. He has 4 goals in his last 3 games, 7 tallies in the past 8 contests.
*This is a Carl Hagelin appreciation bullet. He scored his 1st goal since Dec. 28 (against Carolina) by crashing the net and burying a rebound. But he was also excellent in his penalty killing efforts. Hagelin used his speed to pursue a dumped puck and his presence burned an additional 20 seconds. Effort like that makes all the difference and Hagelin was a difference maker.
*The Pens did a great job of working the puck on the points. When they won puck battles deep in the zone they utilized their defensemen as pass outlets to maintain possession. Pittsburgh generated 2 goals thanks to such scenarios. On both occasions the defenseman (Gaunce and Ian Cole) took a shot with someone (Hagelin and Conor Sheary) scoring on the rebound.
*The addition of Chris Kunitz to the fourth line not only gives the Pens great balance throughout the lineup, but also gives them four lines that can score. In fact, the fourth line has produced a goal in back-to-back games thanks to Kunitz's tally.
*Goaltender Matt Murray was simply awesome in the opening minutes of the game. He made 6 huge saves in the first 3:40 minutes of the game while the Hurricanes dominated possession time. Murray's best save came against Elias Lindholm, who had a chance right in the slot while staring at an empty net. Murray dove to his right, reaching out his paddle to deflect the puck wide. Murray was solid early and then the Pens blew up the game.
*Gaunce has 2 assists in 2 games since being recalled from WBS. Both helpers were the result of him simply putting the puck on the net. For his assist against Carolina he made a great play to keep the puck in the offensive zone at the blue line. Then Gaunce just threw a shot on goal and Hagelin put in the rebound. Gaunce is getting a chance to show what he can do in the NHL, and so far, so good.