Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 3-2 shootout win against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place.
*This was an incredible game. Highly entertaining and showcasing the league's best young talent. It was an up-and-down, fast-paced, stellar level of play and skill. It was the NHL at its best. Stanley Cup Final anyway?
*The game was obviously billed as Sidney Crosby vs. Connor McDavid. But another generational talent also made his presence felt - Evgeni Malkin. Malkin scored a goal in the first period to extend his scoring streak to 4 games with 9 points (6G-3A). He now has 71 points on the season, just 4 behind NHL-leading McDavid. Lookout behind you McDavid, there is a Russian bear lurking, and he's about to reclaim the throne.
*McDavid scored his 1st career goal against the Pens, and he couldn't have picked a better time. He tallied in the 3rd period on a power play to tie the game at 2-2. It was as clutch as clutch can be. McDavid also had a number of great scoring chances after the goal, but was thwarted by Marc-Andre Fleury, including on an OT breakaway chance. McDavid finished with a career-high 9 shots.
*Nick Bonino continues his goal tear with his 13th of the season. He now has 4 goals in his last 2 games, including his 2nd career hat trick. Bonino also has himself a 4-game scoring streak (4G-2A).
*It was a homecoming of sorts for defenseman Justin Schutlz, who played his first 3-plus seasons in the NHL with Edmonton before being dealt to Pittsburgh at last year's trade deadline. Schultz picked up an assist on the Pens' opening goal and was strong defensively.
*Fleury got the call in the goal for the Pens. He was coming off of his perfect 28-for-28 relief effort against Buffalo. Fleury was aggressive, coming way out of his crease to cut down shooting angles, and looked to exude confidence between the pipes. It was another solid effort from the 32-year-old netminder, who was forced to stop several high-quality scoring chances. His best was a split pad stop on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in OT. But he also denied McDavid on a breakaway in the overtime session. He finished with 40 saves.
*Just like the previous contest against Edmonton, defenseman Brian Dumoulin was matched up a lot against McDavid. And just like the previous contest, McDavid tried to take advantage of his speed by jetting around the outside and cutting to the net.
On the first occasion, Dumoulin did a great job of taking the angle and forcing McDavid to the perimeter. On the second McDavid managed to get a step, but Dumoulin was able to battle enough to keep him on the edge and negating a great scoring chance. Although he was outmatched in both occasions, Dumoulin was smart enough and battled hard enough to come out on top in both instances. Not an easy feat against the dynamic McDavid.
*What a head's up play by Scott Wilson to set up Bonino for his goal with Cam Talbot down on the ice. Most young players will try to hurry a shot or force a pass into the slot. But the 24-year-old showed veteran patience to carry the puck all the way around the net from below the goal line to find Bonino on the other side for the easy tap in.
*Final note: this arena is simply amazing. It's huge, I mean huge. Everything is state-of-the art, especially the ginormous scoreboard. It has all the bells and whistles. There are so many unique elements to the building, and it's boujee as hell. Special thanks to OilersTV's Tom Gazzola for the tour.