He's missed the net entirely plenty of times in his young career, but Kris Letang buried the game-winning slapshot last night in overtime, as the Pens repeatedly overcame one goal deficits to beat a rugged Nashville team 4-3. Our takeaways this morning:
Finesse: This is a game the Pens won solely because they had the two best players on the ice. I was watching the Nashville feed of the game and their announcers were reacting to Evgeni Malkin like he was a high school senior boy playing in a middle school girls' soccer game. Utter domination. He was taking 2 minute shifts and literally taking the puck off of people at will. Sid was similarly excellent, as is to be expected. I wouldn't be surprised if Sid has more goals than assists again this year given that it is becoming clear that he has to assume the goal-scoring duties on his own. But, given that this game was won by Sid and Geno, is anyone concerned by this? I'm not disappointed because it is fun to watch, but we also don't want it to be a trend that those two have to play together to create chances. On second thought, I'm over-analyzing...what a game by those two.
Artistry: It was. After a rough start to this game where the puck just seemed to be bouncing on the Pens, everybody's blood started boiling in the second period. As Sid cross-checked Jordan Tootoo repeatedly in the back, I had conflicting emotions, particularly when Nashville scored on the ensuing power play. On one hand, I felt Crosby took a terribly self-indulgent penalty. Did he think he wouldn't get called for the second cross check? What about the third? In a 1-1 game, that's not how captains are supposed to act. On the other hand, I thought maybe Sid was about to take over the game. It reminded me of when guys would get under Mario's skin, and it was the biggest mistake they could have made. Don't wake the sleeping giant. In this case, Nashville woke two giants. Do you think Geno was inspired when Deryk Engelland came to his defense? He was in 2009 playoff form last night. It's true that we rely disproportionately on our top players to create chances, but most teams do, and we have the best top players. And when the Pens outshoot the opposition 38-24 like they did last night, that's getting to our game.
Artistry: Aside from injuries, Fleury is still this team's biggest concern right now. He did look sharp at times, but he continues to flash the kind of inconsistency that makes me wonder if his teammates are really as confident in him as they purport to be. He needs to be in better position on Nashville's third goal of the night. Pretty amusing when the Preds' announcer went on a tangent about Fleury's puck-handling skills and compared him to Ron Hextall. I guarantee that's the first time that's ever happened.
Let me also take a minute to recognize what Kris Letang is doing right now. After 8 games, he leads the team in assists with 6, he has 9 points, and he has a plus-minus of +9. He may be our best defenseman. Letang for the Norris.