Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins' 2-1 win over Edmonton on Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena...
* The biggest storyline heading into this game was Sidney Crosby versus Connor McDavid. The biggest storyline coming out of it was Matt Murray versus Cam Talbot. The goaltenders were spectacular and put on quite the show. With so much talent on both teams, this wasn't an easy game for the netminders, but they did a terrific job. I thought they were both particularly impressive during power plays.
* Murray made a stop during a second-period man-advantage that's a candidate for Save of the Year. It was absolutely magnificent. On a broken play the puck skipped right to Mark Letestu, who was wide open on the back door. It looked like Murray wouldn't be able to recover in time, but he dove across and was able to knock the puck away with the shaft of his stick. Murray is a technically sound goaltender who's usually in a position where he doesn't have to make those desperation saves, but power plays are a different story. That was just incredible work by him to get across and keep the puck out of his net.
* Murray was the Pens' best penalty killer all night, but he certainly got some help from his teammates. Right after that crazy save, chaos erupted in the crease. There were bodies everywhere, and Carl Hagelin ended up saving the day when he reached out and deflected the puck into the corner when the Oilers had another open net. Murray was down and out at that point, but Brian Dumoulin was crouched into a butterfly ready to cover for him if needed. Overall, the Pens did a better job of staying disciplined after getting into penalty trouble their last couple of games.
* The Pens lost Justin Schultz with about five minutes left in the first period when he took an elbow up high. He went to the locker room and did not return, and head coach Mike Sullivan said afterward he had been diagnosed with a concussion. Not only did the Pens go down to five defensemen; but the guys that remained took a beating in this game, particularly when it came to blocking shots. Kris Letang and Chad Ruhwedel both took shots off the lower body that left them in some pain, but they were able to remain in the game. Those guys definitely gutted it out in what turned out to be a surprisingly gritty effort, and Murray couldn't have been more complimentary of them after the game.
* A win is a win, but this one is particularly satisfying considering how the Pens' last game went. After allowing seven goals in a loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday they tightened up defensively tonight, especially at even strength. Sullivan said he liked the compete from his guys and that it was certainly a step in the right direction. Now they just need to have more efforts like this on a consistent basis moving forward.
* The goaltenders and defensemen were fantastic, but that's not to say the stars didn't shine. It's a shame we only get to see Connor McDavid twice a year and once in Pittsburgh, because he's truly a pleasure to watch. The Pens talked this morning about his incredible speed - not just when it comes to skating, but also skating with the puck and making plays. He showed that on a sequence where he danced around Letang and flipped a backhand at Murray that he was able to absorb with his chest, and later he sniped one late in regulation to tie the game.
On the other side, Phil Kessel had a ton of chances all night and finally converted when his team needed it most - 42 seconds into overtime. All in all, the game started off slow, but became an entertaining affair as it went on.
* Finally, Riley Sheahan had a real solid effort in his first game wearing black and gold. It was a strong two-way game for the center, who was responsible defensively and made plays offensively. He capped off an excellent shift by earning the secondary assist on Ian Cole's regulation goal before providing a tremendous screen for the defenseman. All in all, Sullivan said they were real encouraged by Sheahan's game.