What if I told you, that in a 5-1 dismantling of their bitter interstate rival, the game winning goal would come from a 4th liner? And that 3 of the 5 goals came from either a 4th liner or an uncommon scoring defenseman. The Pens came back to life against the Flyers and it wasn’t from the usual stars.
If the Penguins New Year’s resolution was to get more offense from the 3rd and 4th line, well than they’re off to a great start. Let’s just hope it’s not similar to the person who says they are joining a gym, and only stick with it for a week.
This team has always been at their best when they get the help from secondary scoring, it breathes life into the team. That’s exactly what happened when Ryan Reaves banged in a rebound up front to make it 2-1.
Pittsburgh looked like the Penguins of old as they shut down the Flyers on defense and capitalized on timely scoring. If the 3rd and 4th lines get involved, the team becomes very difficult to beat. As fun as this was, it needs to continue in order to bounce up the standings.
Reaves goal sparked a smattering of opportunistic goals shortly after. Conor Sheary scored exactly 40 seconds later on a breakaway and Tommy Kuhnhackl less than 2 minutes after him.
You think the team wasn’t inspired? Sheary was literally back in the locker room injured before hopping on the ice and scoring that goal, Reaves sent a jolt of electricity to the bench that carried through the rest of the game.
Another faction that was found in this game was maybe a birth of a new formidable line. Sadly, Carter Rowney got injured in the game, but that lead to throwing Riley Sheahan on the 4th line with Reaves and Kuhnhackl. The three of them were hands down the best line of the night for the Penguins.
Maybe this is a line that can continue to roll, giving the top guys a breather while still sustaining momentum in a game. The Pens certainly need it, and if they can find something they can build a longstanding winning streak.
Not to be outdone by a big man scoring, new coming Penguin Jamie Oleksiak got in on the fun to make it 5-1. This was Oleksiak’s 2nd goal of the season, in fact, it was also the 2nd goals for Kuhnhackl and Reaves as well. That’s exactly what I’m talking about.
I’m not expecting Reaves to score many more, but I don’t see why Kuhnhackl or Sheahan can’t add a couple other goals. Daniel Sprong hasn’t scored yet but he also seems to be clicking on the 3rd line so far.
Side note: How ironic was it that with a goal and assist in the game, Reaves was only a fight away from the Gordie Howe Hat Trick. Funny enough, Oleksiak was just an assist shy of also completing it. You got to be kidding me, that doesn’t come around all the time.
The real test comes up on Thursday and Friday when they take on the Hurricanes and Islanders. Both are literally the 2 teams right in front of them in the playoff standings.
You continue the goals from the unlikely sources and win these next 2, the Pens are right back in the thick of things and boosting with confidence. The secondary scoring maintaining can change this team for the better quickly.
Give them that extra confidence that they already are known to have by a 3rd and 4th line uptick in assistance, and there’s no stopping this team’s limitations.