Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 2-1 overtime win against the Winnipeg Jets at PPG Paints Arena.
*It may have been a different night and different opponent, but it was the same result. On Tuesday night the Pens defeated Edmonton, 2-1, in overtime on a Phil Kessel breakaway goal. On Thursday night the Pens defeated Winnipeg, 2-1, in overtime on a Phil Kessel breakaway goal.
Kessel has nine shots in the contest, none bigger than his OT winner. He's been actively trying to shoot the puck more, and it's paying off. But it was Kessel's defensive instincts that led to the goal, intercepting a pass in the defensive zone. Then he outskated Patrik Laine, a pretty speedy youngster, en route to the winning tally.
The goal was also Kessel's 300th cover marker, making him the second American-born player to hit the milestone (Zach Parise, 318).
*Pens goalie Matt Murray had a "Matt Murray game." It was the first time this season that Murray legitimately stole two points for Pittsburgh. That's how big of a factor he was in the contest.
Murray was his usual solid self, but also had to come up with some spectacular stops on a few broken plays. Two in particular really stood out. Murray made a split blocker stop on Nikolaj Ehlers in the second period. He followed that in the third period by stoning scoring-sensation Patrik Laine from the slot, and making a split pad stop on Kyle Connor on the ensuing rebound.
Murray finished the game with 30 saves. He also made 29 saves against Edmonton in an overtime win on Tuesday night. He's stopped 59 of 61 shots against in the past two contests. He's starting to really feel it.
*Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel will likely play the entire season together. And it makes sense considering the chemistry they have and how well their hockey IQs compliment each other.
There has been some competition for the open wing spot alongside the dynamic duo. Conor Sheary, Patric Hornqvist, and even Bryan Rust, have all taken turns in that position. But lately the man has been Sheary, and he appears poised to steal that role for the foreseeable future.
Sheary, who has played with Crosby a lot since being called up to the NHL two years ago, scored his fifth goal of the season just 85 seconds into the game on a nice re-direct play. Sheary's awareness and hustle are what led to the goal.
*Poor Carl Hagelin. He scored just six goals during an injury-riddled season last year (only 61 games played) and has just one goal through the first 10 games of the current campaign.
Hagelin appeared to have picked up his second goal of the season in the second period with a wraparound shot that went off of Winnipeg's Toby Enstrom and into the net. However, the play was immediately waved off as Josh Morrissey had knocked the net off of the moorings. Though Morrissey was assessed a delay of game penalty, it doesn't do much good for Hagelin.
*I was really impressed by the Pens' top power-play unit. No, they didn't score a goal - going 0 for 4 - and I do realize that is the most important factor for a power play. But they had superb puck movement, generated a lot of scoring chances and created some momentum. They were thwarted only by blocked shots and some nice netminding from Connor Hellebuyck.
*Late in the third period with the scored tied, 1-1, the Pens were trapped in their defensive zone. The Jets used their physicality to keep possession and create chances. Finally a loose puck bounced into the top circle. One player desperately laid out and dove face first, whacking the puck safely out of the zone. That's sacrifice. That player was Sidney Crosby. Leaders gonna lead.