Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins' 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday at PPG Paints Arena...
* Panthers goalie James Reimer may have nightmares after this game, and one reason for that is Sidney Crosby. Crosby scored twice in this game, both coming from the side of the net and each being one of those impossible plays he makes look easy. On the first goal - which came on the power play - I saw Crosby sneak to the back door unnoticed. I saw Phil Kessel realize he was there, and wondered if he'd be able to thread that pass diagonally through the slot. I didn't have to wonder long, as Kessel quickly made a perfect pass that Crosby whacked right into the net. On the second goal, Kris Letang floated a pass that Crosby again chipped out of mid-air, through Reimer's pads and in. Crosby was the First Star of the game, and his hand-eye coordination should have been the Second Star.
* Reimer is also probably going to have nightmares about Patric Hornqvist. It was a typical day at the office for Hornqvist, who had a game that completely personified his style. He was in and around the crease and making life miserable for the netminder. As a result, Hornqvist got a goal that's a perfect example of how he plays. Olli Maatta got the puck to the front of the net, where Hornqvist was of course stationed. He then dug at it until he was able to get it past Reimer. While Hornqvist was rewarded that time, he was punished shortly after when he barreled over Reimer and was sent to the box for goalie interference. Hornqvist is back to himself after missing the first three games due to injury.
* The Pens talked a lot about tightening up following their 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday, which was one of those defense-optional, back-and-forth track meets. While they were definitely better in that regard tonight, they still have room for improvement. The Panthers had momentum for long stretches of the game, particularly at the beginning of periods, and it resulted in a lot of shots and scoring chances against. The Pens need to do a better job of handling those swings and being a team that's difficult to play against.
* Matt Murray had a heavy workload, seeing 46 total shots. It was something the Pens had expected after the Panthers put up similar numbers in their previous few games. And it wasn't just about the quantity of shots for Florida - they had plenty of quality scoring chances as well. Murray handled it well, coming up with a number of big saves to keep his team in the game and allow them to pull ahead. He was particularly impressive in the last minute-plus of play when Florida pulled their goalie for the extra attacker.
* The Pens spent more time in the box than they would've liked - Mike Sullivan said he wants his team to cut down on stick infractions - but overall I thought the penalty kill was solid. While they did allow a goal during a sequence where the Pens took two straight penalties in the second period, they also scored a goal during that time as well. Tom Kuhnhackl did particularly impressive work on the play to capitalize on a turnover in the neutral zone that he took to the net, getting taken out on his way there. Greg McKegg picked it up and sniped a backhand. It was his first goal of the season, scored against his former club. He's been so solid for the Pens, and it was nice to see him finally get one.