Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 4-2 loss to Minnesota.
* One thing that both Mike Sullivan and Sidney Crosby mentioned when talking about the Wild this morning is that they had the NHL's top penalty kill. Minnesota had allowed just TWO GOALS all year heading into this game. The Pens doubled that number tonight. I know the Pens' power play goes through its cold streaks, but when it's hot like it is right now, it's red-hot. And the Wild didn't have an answer for it. All of the Pens personnel just seems to be on the same page, moving the puck quickly and crisply and just executing their plays. It's beautiful to watch. Overall, the Pens went 2-for-4.
* Phil Kessel was the driving force behind the power play's success tonight. I know Sam Kasan talked after the win over Edmonton on Tuesday about his playmaking skills, and he continued to show them off tonight with assists on both power-play goals. Overall, he was one of the best players on the ice all night. The Pens winger was moving his legs, making plays and just being a big factor every time he was on the ice.
* Another big talking point coming into this game was how stingy the Wild are defensively, as they had allowed just three goals in five games entering tonight. When asked about concerns of a getting sucked into a trap game, Sullivan said the most important thing for his team would be to understand what their identity is and to dictate the terms of how they want to play. I thought that's what the Pens did in the first period, playing that speed game that overwhelms their opponent. The Pens got out of their end quickly, spent a lot of time in the other end, and were all over the Wild, forcing them to make plays.
* However, the Pens didn't sustain that the whole night. Sullivan wasn't happy with how his team got away from that as the game went on. Crosby said the Wild are a team you don't want to chase, and that's just what the Pens found themselves doing in the third period after one botched sequence in their own end let Minnesota take a 3-2 lead. From there, the Wild never looked back.
* Marc-Andre Fleury played a confident, aggressive game tonight. The best example of that came in the second period with his team on a power play. The Wild cleared the puck behind Kris Letang, the last man back, and it looked to be a footrace - though not with him. Fleury actually raced all the way up to the blue line and beat the Minnesota player to the puck, pushing it out of his own end and to safety. The Pens then went back the other way and scored. It was a risky play, but one that paid off.
* He and Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk both faced a high volume of shots. The Wild had 44 while the Pens recorded 41. While it's a positive the Pens put that much rubber at the net, it was concerning how much they allowed. They need to rectify that moving forward.
* After going pointless last game, Crosby got back on the scoresheet with a vintage marker. It was one of those goals where you just shake your head and marvel. He skated to the side of the net, stopped and faced Kessel on the wall. Kessel put it towards him and Crosby perfectly deflected it into the net. Crosby now has nine goals in eight games, his highest total through his first eight games in his career.