The Penguins have now played 27 games in the 2018-19 season — nearly a third of the full slate. They still don't seem to have an identity ... but they do seem to be shaping one.
They've won two in a row, four in the last six, have two natural hat tricks during that span and had a chance to add a third or fourth of the boring variety Thursday night.
Midway through the third period, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel were on the ice together — both sitting on a pair of goals. During extended zone time, each had a halfway decent scoring chance and each had the puck on their stick for additional opportunities if desired.
When the puck was finally frozen, Kessel shot a look at Letang, bobbed his head a few times at him and broke out in a laugh. He drifted away, smiling. It looked as though the meaning was something along the lines of, "Let's get some more hats!"
There hasn't been much smiling or laughter so far this season. Well, maybe on the Western Canada trip, the only real stretch of success on the season. Since then, it's largely been searching for answers more than it's been scoring goals, winning games and, thus, having fun. But, maybe the recent surplus of hats can change that.
Of course, the team could revert to its scoring struggles Saturday in Ottawa. But, if the Penguins' stars are scoring and smiling, the road ahead looks brighter than what 2018's provided thus far.
The first photo up top is Kessel smiling to himself after his interaction with Letang. The rest of the game's best images follow.