Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens’ 4-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stadium Series at Heinz Field.
*The biggest question surrounding any of these outdoor games is how will the weather effect conditions on the ice. Mother Nature was good to the Pens and Flyers. One day earlier the temperature hit 75 degrees, but it dipped to 36 at puck drop and even a little snow fell for a picturesque scene.
As far as the ice, all of the players told me that it was as good as it could be for an outdoor game. There were no issues regarding the ice. There was, however, some heavy winds that caused a few errant passes. But the game play was amazing considering it was played outside.
*Sidney Crosby scored the game’s opening goal in the first period. Although he scored in a shootout in the inaugural Winter Classic, his tally was his first career goal in an outdoor game – his fourth played. I think Crosby has officially done it all now.
*As the Flyers headed to the locker room following the 1st period one of them said, “Who is this 59 kid?” That would be Jake Guentzel. And if they didn’t know him before the game, they certainly know him now.
Guentzel setup 2 Pens’ goals with a pair of beautiful passes. The first was to Crosby through traffic. On the second Guentzel received a pass in the slot and made a quick dish to Nick Bonino in the circle.
But Guentzel’s best play didn’t even result in a point. He carried down the far side, slammed on the breaks and then made a hard, backhand pass the width of the ice to Scott Wilson for a scoring chance, but Wilson’s shot was denied. Guentzel put on a show tonight.
*Guentzel had a scary moment early in the second period after Brandon Manning delivered a shot to his head. Not only did he not miss a shift, but seemed to play even better following the collision.
*Matt Cullen is 40 years old and playing in his first career outdoor game. The veteran came through with a clutch goal in the third period for the Pens on a nice wraparound shot and rebound opportunity. The best part was seeing the 40-year-old celebrate like a rookie scoring his first career goal. A truly genuine moment of joy.
*The game play in most outdoor games is slower than a usual game because of the weather conditions. However, that was not the case tonight. And because of that, both teams were able to exert themselves physically. There were 89 total hits in the contest with Pittsburgh edging Philadelphia, 50-39.