Archive

Penguins’ Juuso Riikola punctuates big night in St. Louis with first NHL goal | TribLIVE.com
Penguins/NHL

Penguins’ Juuso Riikola punctuates big night in St. Louis with first NHL goal

Jonathan Bombulie
588621gtrpens15092318
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins’ Juuso Riikola beats Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo in the first period Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.

ST. LOUIS – When Jamie Oleksiak was cleared to return to the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup before Saturday night’s game with the St. Louis Blues, there was a chance Juuso Riikola would find himself a healthy scratch once the puck dropped.

After all, Riikola was the odd-man out before Oleksiak suffered a concussion in a fight with Washington’s Tom Wilson on Dec. 19.

Coach Mike Sullivan, however, decided not to change the six-man group that produced four straight wins in Oleksiak’s absence. Riikola rewarded his coach with a big night in a 6-1 Penguins win over the Blues.

Riikola scored his first NHL goal on a second-period power play, blocked six shots and dropped St. Louis defenseman Robert Thomas with a massive open-ice hit to help the Penguins to their fifth straight win.

“It was great for him,” Sullivan said. “He had a smile from ear to ear when he scored. He got a great ovation (in the locker room) after the game. We recognized his first NHL goal, and that’s something he’ll never forget. No one ever forgets their first NHL goal. It’s a big deal, and we’re thrilled for him.”

Riikola was one of the top scoring defensemen in the Swedish league over the past two seasons before signing with the Penguins in May.

He had plenty of scoring chances in his first 18 NHL games, but between a few shots off the post and a few near misses, he had yet to score.

That changed when Tanner Pearson won a puck battle in the right-wing corner and threaded a pass through the offensive zone to Riikola above the left hash marks. He wound up and fired a shot that trickled through goalie Jake Allen.

Riikola jumped into the glass next to the Penguins bench in celebration.

“It was awesome,” teammate Kris Letang said. “He’s a guy that’s had tons of chances, a lot of posts he hit. I think everybody’s happy for him.”

Follow the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.