Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins' 5-2 win over San Jose…
* Matt Murray returned to game action for the first time since the passing of his father, James. He was absolutely terrific in an emotional win, making 40 stops in the game. Mike Sullivan said this morning that whenever the Pens play San Jose, they have to game plan for how the Sharks create a lot of offense from their defense with point shots and their net/slot presence. It's incredibly challenging for a goaltender, as Murray was forced to deal with a lot of traffic and scrambles. But he came up with some really tough, really great saves, bailing his teammates out when they needed it - particularly in the second period. It was great to see him back in goal performing like he did, and Murray's teammates said afterward his play was inspiring.
"It was a great feeling, obviously, getting back to normal and getting in a good game like that and getting a big win for the team," Murray said afterward. "I know points are important right now and every game means so much, so it was really nice to get back in there."
* Credit to the Pens for hunting down pucks and being relentless on the forecheck. Because of that, they were able to capitalize on a couple of mistakes by San Jose. In the waning seconds of the second period, Brent Burns made a lazy reverse right to Phil Kessel, who found Evgeni Malkin in front of the net. That was a momentum-changing goal, considering the Sharks had dominated that frame. Then, just a few minutes into the third, Martin Jones went to play the puck and Patric Hornqvist intercepted his pass before again finding Malkin in front of the net. Just some fantastic, opportunistic plays by the Pens that really turned the tide of the game.
* Bryan Rust has wasted no time re-acclimating himself back into the lineup. He scored twice tonight to give him three points in just three games after missing 11 contests with an upper-body injury. In addition to getting on the scoresheet, he's been noticeable with his speed and has stepped in on the penalty kill. "I think Rusty is just a real good two-way player," Sullivan said. His first goal was an absolute beauty off a forehand-backhand deke, and his second goal he finished off a fantastic feed from Tom Kuhnhackl. He nearly got a third late in regulation when Sidney Crosby fed him a pass on a 2-on-1 with the Sharks' net empty, but Rust's shot went off the crossbar. He joked afterward that he's not going to hear the end of that one for a while.
* Rust may not have gotten the hat trick, but Malkin ended up completing the 12th one of his career shortly after. Rust and Crosby collected assists on the play, extending the captain's point streak to 10 games. He's collected 20 points over that span (3G-17A).
* Jamie Oleksiak said earlier today that special teams was the difference in their 2-1 loss to San Jose on Jan. 20, as the Sharks tallied the game-winner on the power play while the Pens did not score on the man-advantage. For a while, it looked like special teams was going to be the difference again, especially since the Pens gave the Sharks too many chances on the man-advantage in the second period and San Jose capitalized with a pair of goals. But while the Pens couldn't create any magic of their own on the power play - going 0-for-3 on the night - they certainly stepped up during 5-on-5 play.