It didn't take long for the Penguins to get on the board, and then it didn't take long for them to do it again ... but prettier.
Nothing against Tanner Pearson's ice-skimming snipe to beat Roberto Luongo, he did a great job looking Luongo off to make him second guess a shot before the quick release, but Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust combined for the goal of the night.
Guentzel started the goal off by offering his take on a NHL 16-era poke check as an offensive ability more than a defensive one. As he did so, a collective "ooohhhhhhh" rang throughout the building. It was an instant and appreciative reaction for what No. 59 was creating before it finished playing out.
Watch that video of the play a couple more times, because the replay angle is truly perfect. Guentzel so casually angles his stick and sends the puck up over the reach of Aaron Ekblad — playing a little too casually there himself.
He then draws Keith Yandle, slips the puck into the slot to Rust and Rust does the rest of the work.
Watch Rust stay strong on his skates and lift his stick to protect it. He knows he has the body position to protect the puck from the duo reaching at him and lets it drift while he plans his move. Luongo's slide was aggressive, Rust sees it and manages to put his head down and flash back to NHL 16 again where a simple move to the backhand would beat the best of goalies in online play.
The goal was gorgeous in real time, but it's even better to appreciative with the assistance of the slow motion above ... especially from that angle. The photo finish to it is what's seen at the top of this story.
On the complete opposite side of the spectrum from the wonderful finesse play of Guentzel and Rust above sits bare knuckle brawling. Especially when those bare knuckles are being pushed into the plastic shells and visors protecting the heads of NHL players.
Both Zach Aston-Reese and Marcus Pettersson were forced into fights Tuesday night, but for wildly different reasons. For whatever reason, Pettersson was just kind of ... picked on all night by the Panthers. You know, because of the longstanding animosity between two of the NHL's best rivals (insert eyeroll here).
Aston-Reese, though, had to pay some dues after his looked-uglier-than-it-was interference penalty sent a trainer to the ice to help Frank Vatrano in the corner. Two minutes and 21 seconds later, Aston-Reese was headed back to the box when he stepped up to Colton Sceviour looking to defend his teammate.
That's when I shot this sequence:
That's a sequence of 17 photos that shows Aston-Reese, presumably tired of beating on a plastic helmet, rip the helmet from Sceviour's head and swing to connect to his now-helmetless temple in a fluid rip and swing motion.
It was a pretty vicious move for a guy not used to seeing fighting majors in the NHL. It also turns out it could have been vicious to his own health as well, as Mike Sullivan told reporters following the game. He didn't go into a lot of detail, just that Aston-Reese could be out a bit.
For sake of speculating, I caught two frames from the fight that could be the source of the injury.
The first, a punch to the reconstructed and reinforced jaw/chin of Aston-Reese:
I like to believe that's the less likely scenario. I'm not a doctor, but with someone whose leg is reinforced with metal hardware ... I at least like to believe it makes the area stronger.
The second likely source of injury occurred when Aston-Reese shed the helmet from Sceviour and landed the bare knuckled blast into Sceviour's skull. Turns out bone is a bit harder than the plastic shell Aston-Reese was beating on and may have sat him down with a hand injury:
We'll know more if and when the team discloses more information or provides an update. And, while I hate to speculate, it's pretty rare to get two pretty distinct photos of how and when an injury occurred.
As always, the rest of the game's best images can be seen below.
MATT SUNDAY GALLERY
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