Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens’ 6-3 win against the Minnesota Wild at PPG Paints Arena.
* The Pens continue to trend upward. Pittsburgh won its 7th game in the past 9, which includes a 4-game winning streak. With the win the Pens hopped into 2nd place in the Metro Division (barring the outcome of Columbus at Arizona). Just 3 weeks ago many had left the Pens for dead. Once again they’ve risen from the ashes.
* Sidney Crosby’s legacy is well set in the city of Pittsburgh. Although Mario Lemieux is the greatest player to ever wear a Penguins sweater (or play the game in general for that matter), Crosby removed any question as to which player is the second greatest to don the black and gold.
Crosby picked up 3 assists against the Wild to give him 1,082 career points, surpassing Jaromir Jagr (1,079) for second place on the team’s all-time scoring list. And now only Lemieux (1,723) stands between Crosby and the mountaintop.
* Sticking with the Crosby theme, he now has a season-long 9-game scoring streak for 19 points (3G-16A). That gives him 55 total on the season, and he has inched his way to within 6 (barring other game outcomes) of Nikita Kucherov for the NHL lead.
* Crosby surpassed Jagr in the most Crosby way ever. He backchecked into the neutral zone to steal a puck, pivoted and darted into the offensive zone before finding rookie Dominik Simon to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.
* Speaking of Simon, the 23-year-old winger scored 2 goals against Minnesota, his first career 2-goal game. And he scored both in impressive fashion, snapping off hard wrist shots form the high slot and perfectly into the corner. Simon has an incredible release on his shot, and I love seeing him not afraid to use it.
Simon has 3 goals in his past 2 games and a 3-game scoring streak (3G-1A). The rookie has looked comfortable on Crosby’s wing, and now the production is starting to come.
* While Crosby is stealing a lot of the headlines and attention, don’t forget about Phil Kessel and Malkin. Kessel picked up 3 assists while Malkin added 3 points (2G-1A). The 3-headed Monster led the charge for the Pens.
Kessel now has 58 points on the season, just 3 behind Kucherov. And Malkin stands at 52.
* The Pens welcomed back center Matt Cullen. The former Pen signed with his hometown Minnesota Wild in the offseason. Cullen was a member of the Pens’ past 2 Stanley Cup titles. He was affectionately referred to as “dad” by his teammates for his mentor and leadership role. The crowd gave Cullen a huge ovation as the “Thank You” video played for him during the 1st period.
* One negative in the game for Pittsburgh was the number of penalties taken by the team. Pittsburgh was penalized 5 times in the contest, and twice for closing their hand on the puck. Those types of mental lapses are inexcusable at this time of the season. Luckily the Pens’ PK stood tall, but it did cost rookie goalie Casey DeSmith his shutout.