Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 3-2 shootout win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at PPG Paints Arena.
* Make no mistake, the Pens deserved this win. They battled, they persevered and they overcame to gain the extra point against their hated division rival. Really, the game wasn't as close as the score indication. If not for the superb goaltending of Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky and some near missed opportunities, Pittsburgh would have easily skated to a win.
But Pittsburgh had to earn it, the old-fashioned way. That was by playing gritty and hard, matching the Blue Jackets' feistiness and physicality while one-upping them on the skill front.
The Pens effort has seemed lackadaisical at times lately, especially on their recent 3-game road trip. A high-intensity matchup with Columbus was exactly what the Pens needed for a shot of adrenaline to the heart. Pittsburgh rose up. Now, the challenge is to stay up.
* The Pens have to be the best team in the NHL in a 3-on-3 setting. The team just knows how to execute everything well from entries to zone time to line changes. If it seemed like the Pens had the puck in Columbus' zone the entire overtime period, that's because they pretty much did.
And how about Crosby dancing around the entire Jackets team as if this were stick time in the driveway? You don't expect to see such individual dominance at this level. Just incredible.
* The Pens' frustration was reaching new levels of height in the contest. It's not everyday that you see Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang getting involved in scrums and fisticuffs, let alone all in the same game. But something about the Blue Jackets brings it out in them.
Malkin had a scoring chance during the second period as he fell to the ground in the slot. Columbus' Nick Foligno threw his body on top of Malkin and caught him up high. Malkin started swinging as he rose to his feet. Both players exchanged hooks and haymakers.
Crosby was involved in a scrum following the final whistle in the second period. Josh Anderson caught him with a punch in the face and then he started swinging with defenseman Seth Jones. Crosby and Jones each served 4 minutes for roughing.
After colliding in the neutral zone, Letang and Anderson pushed and shoved each other for some time until both players dropped their gloves. Though the officials intervened before much of anything could come from it.
The game definitely was nasty, but the Pens' bench got a jump from watching the stars step up and go toe-to-toe with Columbus.
* Malkin may have spoken with his fists, but his biggest statements came with his stick. Malkin notched a power-play goal to give the Pens a late third-period lead, and added a score in the shootout. Malkin got the last laugh.
* The Pens traded a first-round pick and Oskar Sundqvist to St. Louis for Ryan Reaves. And games like this were the reason why. Reaves threw a thunderous check into Markus Hannikainen, sending him so hard into the boards that the sound reverberated all the way up in the press box. Lukas Sedlak responded by dropping the gloves. Reaves obliged. The fight didn't last long, and it didn't end well for Sedlak, who landed nothing and absorbed a few shots from Reaves.