Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins’ 5-4 shootout loss to Nashville on Saturday at Bridgestone Arena…
* As Stefon from Saturday Night Live has said, this game had everything. It was about as entertaining as it gets for a mid-November matchup in the Penguins’ first shootout of the year. As Mike Sullivan put it, it was a hard-fought game with two good teams going at it. It was a back-and-forth battle with momentum swings, power-play and shorthanded goals, a crazy overtime and plenty to keep the fans happy.
* Tristan Jarry is a talented goaltender, but he’s young. As he said afterward, there’s always a learning curve every game, and he can take something from each one. Tonight was one of those nights. It started in the second period when Jarry left his net and went almost to the blue line to play a puck, where he was forced to take a tripping penalty in order to keep the Preds from scoring on the open net. From there, Nashville struck just three seconds in to take their first lead of the night, and ended up with three goals in the opening 5:29 of the period. It was a tough sequence for Jarry, but he responded well. The rookie didn’t get rattled and continued to come up with big saves, especially late. I liked how much he was continuing to challenge shooters, which is a sign of confidence.
* The Penguins got into penalty trouble on Friday in Washington, and the Capitals made them pay with two power-play goals. Patric Hornqvist told me after the game they needed to be more disciplined, and it was something they had talked about in the locker room. They didn’t quite seem to get the message, as they were shorthanded six times tonight and allowed another pair of power-play tallies. After the game, Sullivan said discipline has been a problem for them as of late. He added that they have complete control over it, and they need to do a better job of being more responsible with their sticks and in general.
* This time, the Penguins showed much more resiliency than they did in D.C. Once the Caps took a 3-1 lead, the Pens didn’t have enough pushback. When the Preds took a 3-1 lead tonight, they continued battling and were able to chip away at the deficit, getting big goals from Jake Guentzel and Brian Dumoulin in the third period.
* One Penguin stopped a slump, while another kept streaking. Bryan Rust scored a shorthanded goal to get his second of the season, and first since Oct. 11 at Washington. Meanwhile, Phil Kessel scored his seventh of the season to extend his goal streak to three straight games.
* When Rust scored in the first period to give the Pens a 1-0 lead heading into intermission, it seemed like they might finally break their bad luck in the second game of back-to-backs. And while the trend ultimately continues, with the Pens now 0-5-1 in that situation, the positive is that they did come out with a better start, which had been their biggest issue. It’s the penalties that hurt them the most.