The Penguins 4-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights Thursday night didn’t see much improvement in the Penguins level of play from the Canadiens game, except on the scoreboard.

What played out is Phil Kessel and Casey DeSmith happened.

Kessel recorded a hat trick, highlighted by a breakaway goal, while DeSmith was excellent in goal with 35 saves that included a 2-on-0 stop.

Pittsburgh improved to 2-1 on the season because of those two.

This was the type of game when a Phil Kessel shows his worth. Pittsburgh was badly outplayed and Kessel was a game changer with 3 goals.

And for the first time in the week old season, Pittsburgh got above average goaltending.

The negatives for the Penguins in the win was struggles to tilt the ice during 5-on-5 play.

“Obviously we’re pleased that we won and we got the result,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. “But I think our team is capable of getting to another level. I don’t think we had the puck nearly as much as we need to have it in order for us to be at our best.”

Pittsburgh was out-attempted 66-39 at 5 vs 5, minus-10 in total high danger chances.

Most alarming was the Penguins No. 2 pairing of Jack Johnson – Justin Schultz who were in their own end all game.

Johnson-Schultz pairing was at 22% in possession. Just one game and 22% will surely not be the norm, but Justin Schultz’ game is tailored where you need him in that 50-52% range to get value out of him on the ice.


So how did Matt Murray go from being diagnosed with a concussion (announced on Tuesday) to practicing fully on Thursday and Friday where he’s under consideration to dress vs the Canadiens.

Word from sources on the inside is that what played out here is the Penguins jumped To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

— Though things can always change, Olli Maatta was told early in the week his benching would be a short-term one as in one-two games To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!