Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 4-0 win against the Florida Panthers at PPG Paints Arena...
- Sidney Crosby has officially (re)heated up. After a seven-game goalless stretch from Feb. 28-March 11, Crosby has now scored 6 times in his last 3 games. He had two goals on Friday and three today. He always talks about how as long as the chances are there, then he doesn't get discouraged. And man, did he have a ton of opportunities during that cold streak. Now, they're falling for him, and it's great to see the hardest-working man in hockey get rewarded.
- Crosby has now reached 40 goals in a season for the second time in his career, three ahead of Boston's Brad Marchand in the Rocket Richard race. He now has 80 points on the season, tied with Edmonton's Connor McDavid for the Art Ross race. The best part? Crosby has skated in 6 less games than both those players. No big deal.
- With all of the injuries, the Pens need players to step up and lead. Right now, Crosby's line with Guentzel and Sheary is doing a terrific job of that. They had a strong performance in Friday's 6-4 win over New Jersey - the first game the Pens played without Evgeni Malkin - and they built on that with an even better one today. Guentzel and Sheary assisted on all three of Crosby's goals to help the Pens take the game and hold onto it. It's just amazing to see how those three read and react off each other and watch them go to work in the offensive zone.
- Ian Cole didn't get any credit on the scoresheet, but he was a big factor in Crosby's first two tallies. On the first one, he stepped up in the neutral zone to intercept a pass and send his team the other way. On the second one, he held the blue line and was able to get the puck over to Sheary to start another scoring sequence. Smart, heads-up plays by the defenseman.
- We've seen some awesome trick goals this year, with most of them scored by either Crosby or Malkin. But the Pens' first goal might have been their coolest of the year, and it was scored by Patric Hornqvist. Sam Kasan will have the play broken down here.
- Marc-Andre Fleury didn't have the busiest night, as the Panthers mustered just 21 shots on goal. But they of course had their chances, and had some particularly good ones on the power play. Fleury shut the door on all of them, inspiring a few "FLEURY! FLEURY!" chants from the crowd and earning his first shutout of the season.
- The Pens played a video tribute in the first period to honor Jaromir Jagr for being named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players. They showed a ton of great moments from his time here, and the crowd got to their feet and gave Jagr a standing ovation as players from both teams watched and tapped their sticks on their respective benches. Jagr then waved to the crowd and tapped his heart. Awesome moment.
- This was a much cleaner effort from the Pens compared to Friday. That game wasn't their best, and they were the first to admit that. They were a lot more smart and efficient in this one, playing a tight, simple game, putting their heads down and getting the job done. The one area that needs work? The power play, which went 0-for-4 and didn't create a whole lot.