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Snap Shots: Penguins 9, Flames 1

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 9-1 win against Calgary at Scotiabank Saddledome...

* This was about as complete of a game as the Pens have had all year. They were solid in all facets of the game: the offense was scoring, the defense was stingy, the goaltender was sharp, the power-play scored and the PK shut the door. This was as dominating of a performance as I've seen in a while. And the final score could have been even more lopsided. 

* The key tonight was the Pittsburgh simplifying its game. Patric Hornqvist's power-play goal was a tip play at the crease. His second goal was a 2-on-1 rush where he shot the puck instead of trying to pass. Phil Kessel's first goal came after he took a shot from the circle and then skated to the net to score his own rebound. Bryan Rust scored a goal after putting a shot on net from between the circles and then getting his own rebound for a score. Good things happen when you shoot the puck. 

* Another game, another ridiculous goal by Sidney Crosby. This time Crosby had the puck at the goal line and - somehow, someway - lifted a backhand shot from an impossible angle into the top corner over the shoulder of 6-foot-5 netminder Mike Smith. 

Crosby now has 5 goals and 9 points in 8 career games in Calgary, including 2 marvelous tallies. 

* Hornqvist was asked about the lack of secondary scoring while the team was in Banff. The first person he pointed to was himself. "It's on me, too. I don't have any goals." 

Boy, has that changed. 

Hornqvist has back-to-back 2-goal games after netting another pair against the Flames. Hornqvist had 0 goals in the first 6 games of the year. Now he has 4 goals in the past 2. And they were all scored in Hornqvist's "home," right around the paint. 

* Not to be outdone, Kessel also had 2 goals in the game. The first came after collecting his own rebound and beating Smith five-hole. The second occurred as Kessel was stepping out of the penalty box. He went in on goal for a clean breakaway and snapped a nasty shot off the far post and in. The puck clanked off the post so loud that you could hear it all the way up in the press box. 

* Also, congrats to Kessel on playing in his 700th straight regular-season game. It was also his 254th straight as a Penguin, tying Evgeni Malkin for 5th place on the team's all-time consecutive games play list. 

* Perhaps the most significant development in the game was the play of goaltender Matt Murray. He looked like the Matt Murray of old. He was positionally sound, making tough saves look relatively easy. He was collected and cool during breakdowns and scrums around the crease. And when called upon was able to make a few spectacular stops. 

In the first period with the game scoreless, Murray dove to his left to rob former Penguin James Neal of a sure goal into an empty net. Late in the second period Murray made a split-pad save on Dillon Dube on a 2-on-1 play. 

Since returning from the concussion, Murray has looked like a different player. He looks like his old self. 

* Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin both finished with a plus-5. Now that's a No. 1 pair. 

* Chad Ruhwedel and Derek Grant made their season debuts. And Ruhwedel was really flying. His speed and skill are undeniable, and make the Pens a much more mobile defense corps. He showed great closing speed to thwart Sam Bennett on a breakaway in the third period. And even helped break up a 4-on-2 for Calgary. It'll be hard to take him out of the lineup after watching his game tonight. 

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