Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens’ 2-1 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks at PPG Paints Arena.
* The difference in this game was special teams. Chicago scored two power-play goals in the game, while Pittsburgh’s power play was held off of the scoresheet. The Pens penalty kill unit has been struggling lately, and they have yet to find a cure.
* Matt Hunwick returned to the lineup after missing the past 15 games with a concussion. He made an immediate impact. Hunwick scored a shorthanded goal in the third period that tied the game at 1-1.
Hunwick also saved a goal when Matt Murray lost the puck and Lance Bouma had an empty net in front of him. Hunwick stretched out his leg to make a kick save that any goaltender could appreciate.
Hunwick didn’t stop there. He finished the night with six blocked shots, the highest total in the game.
* Hunwick wasn’t the only Pens player to come up with a ridiculous save. During a penalty kill, an errant Blackhawks shot went off the end boards and out to Patrick Sharp on the opposite side. Murray couldn’t recover fast enough, but Riley Sheahan slid in the crease to kick away Sharp’s shot.
* Lost in the mix of all the Pens players playing goalie, was the play of the team’s actual goalie. Murray was tested early when Jonathan Toews tried to sneak a shot through his five-hole from along the goal line. Murray sticked the puck away. Minutes later Nick Schmaltz had a breakaway and also tried to tuck the puck through Murray’s five-hole. Again, Murray brought down the paddle to close the door. Murray also stopped Sharp on a breakaway in the third period.
It was a solid night from Murray, who had surrendered six goals to the Blackhawks in Chicago earlier this season. The performance will definitely help with his psyche and confidence.
* Ian Cole continues to assert himself in the physical spectrum. Cole laid another explosive hit – for the third game in a row – when he blew up Ryan Hartman just inside the blue line. In previous games Cole had delivered crushing hits to Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart and Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan.
* The Pens appeared to have tied the game at 2-2 in the third period, but the Blackhawks challenged goaltender interference on Olli Maatta. The goal was overturned, and rightly so. It was clearly interference.