Coming off a poor performance in New York, the Penguins played a much better game against a very tough opponent. The Blues play tough hockey, and it makes for a physical matchup. A lot of chirping between whistles at face-offs and chirping at the benches. All in all, the Penguins played much better. A loss is a loss, but playing better defensively is at least a step in the right direction, following a very bad game against the Rangers.
Defensive Moment: Kris Letang found himself in position to be beaten by T.J. Oshie along the boards, and flashed his impressive skating ability to get back in position. He also threw a great hip check, which you don't see very often in the current NHL.
It should be noted that it's a great thing that Oshie did not get injured on this hit. The way his head almost hit the ice, he easily could have been hurt. His skate easily could have clipped someone on the bench as well. Glad to see him get up from that hit unscathed.
Dumb Moment: With Paul Martin out of the lineup tonight with an injury, Deryk Engelland was moved back to defense. He dropped the gloves and fought with Ryan Reaves off of the opening face-off. Leaving the Penguins short one defenseman for 6 minutes to start the game is not ideal. It went unharmed, as no goals were scored while the penalty was being served. I just find it a little silly to shorten your bench when it is unnecessary and avoidable.
Another Defensive Moment: It takes a whole lot of skill to play a puck out of mid-air while skating backwards. Tonight, Olli Maatta did just that. It appeared to be a calculated risk, whether to jump up and play the puck, or to retreat and play the man. Maatta chose to play the puck, and I would say he made the right call.
If he had missed the puck, we surely would be having a different conversation, perhaps referring to this as a bad moment instead of a good one.
Coaching Moment: Late in the first period, Dan Bylsma's line changes worked to near perfection. The Blues' line of David Backes and T.J. Oshie were just finishing a shift, and when they came off, the Crosby line came on the ice. It led to a breakaway for Crosby, but his shot attempt was saved by Halak. Perhaps it was perfect line matching, perhaps it was a little luck. Either way, Crosby breakaways are just fine by me.
Power Play Moment: Jussi Jokinen made a great play near the blue line to keep the Blues from trying to exit the zone on the PK, then found himself in front of the net uncovered for an easy tap in goal.
The hockey IQ to keep the puck in the zone and quickly be able to quietly position yourself in front of the net is an incredible feat. Quite simply, if you can get open in front of the net for a pass from Evgeni Malkin, you should be able to score a lot of the goals in the NHL.
Smart Moment: By now, most Pens fans know that Tanner Glass is a smart guy, having attended Dartmouth. He proved his smarts tonight. Having gotten into a little chirping match with Chris Stewart, both players were given a 10-minute misconduct and sent down the runway in the 2nd period. Personally, I will take that trade-off all the time. Any time you can get a significantly better player off the ice is a positive. Comparable moment to opening night when Glass fought Ryane Clowe of the Devils. Moments like these are the type of things the Penguins need Tanner Glass to do if he is trying to fill the role of Matt Cooke.
Other Things: James Neal made a surprise entrance to the lineup after sitting out with an injury since opening night. He looked good. Appeared to be a nice boost to the power play. Crosby was really quiet tonight. Much of that can probably be attributed to Ken Hitchcock getting the last change and matching his line with Steen-Backes-Oshie. Goals by Ryan Reaves and Kevin Shattenkirk for the Blues.
Flyers come to town on Wednesday. NBCSN Rivalry Night 3.0.
Memorable Moments' is a mini-recap after each game, featuring GIFs & breakdowns of some plays. You can chirp Mike (which is highly encouraged) on Twitter @MikeDarnay