Here are a few takeaways from Pittsburgh's 5-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at the newly dubbed PPG Paints Arena…
-Tonight's contest was the first real test for winger Phil Kessel's hand. He suffered a hand injury last season, but continued to play through the pain during the Stanley Cup playoffs. He still led the team in goals (10) and points (22). In the summer Kessel had surgery on the hand. It's fully healed and it looked strong during the contest.
Kessel had an opportunity early in the game while streaking down the near side, he still has that incredible motor. He was set up at the side of the net and got off a quick snap shot. On two other occasions he had the puck high in the offensive zone, corralled and whipped a hard shot on goal. He tied for the team lead in shots with four.
After the game Kessel said of his hand, "It felt alright. I was just trying to get a feel for it out there." It certainly looked good from up high.
-Speaking of being in mid-season form, Patric Hornqvist was back to doing what he does best, being a nasty, pest at the crease. He was particularly destructive while the Pens were on the power play. On one play he took a shot from the side of the net, then tried to barrel goaltender Jared Coreau into the goal. On another try, Hornqvist was swatting away at a covered puck, that ended up with him getting planted by Brendan Smith. Hornqvist drew a late power play for Pittsburgh after Xavier Oullet cross checked him at the net. That was Hornqvist doing what he does.
-At the conclusion of every practice the last two players on the ice have been defensemen Kris Letang and Olli Maatta. All that extra work must have really paid off for Letang, because preseason or not, the team leaned on him heavily in the contest. The blueliner set a career high with an average of 26:56 minutes of ice time last season, and he logged 27:00 minutes tonight. I think he's working his way up to 60 minutes per game. I know the Pens would love to have that option. Oh, and he chipped in a goal. Imagine that.
-Pittsburgh entered the contest on the back of three consecutive shutouts (Chicago twice, Columbus). Goaltender Tristan Jarry picked up two blankings while Marc-Andre Fleury notched one. That streak ended at 189:44 minutes following Gustav Nyquist's first period goal.