Penguins’ Tanner Pearson hopes to complement Phil Kessel on third line |

Penguins’ Tanner Pearson hopes to complement Phil Kessel on third line

Jonathan Bombulie
Pittsburgh Penguins’ Tanner Pearson (14) celebrates his goal in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018.

ST. LOUIS – Pittsburgh Penguins winger Tanner Pearson has a 24-goal season in the NHL and a 37-goal season in juniors on his resume. At many points in his career, he’s been the shooter on his line.

That’s not the case at the moment.

When he takes the ice alongside center Derick Brassard and right wing Phil Kessel when the Penguins face the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night, it’s clear who the No. 1 option to shoot the puck on his line will be.

It’s Kessel. All day, every day.

“When you have an open shot yourself, you try to take it, but I definitely have no issue passing back, that’s for sure,” Pearson said with a laugh Saturday morning.

Like many of his teammates, Pearson speaks of Kessel’s shot in reverent tones.

“You look at his goals over the years and how many goals he’s scored coming down that right side and snapping one low blocker,” Pearson said. “It’s funny. We had a play like that in Carolina. I gave it to him and he went down and tried to go high and it went off the goalie’s knob. We had a chuckle about that, like, ‘That’s not your shot, Phil.’ He definitely has that shot down to a tee. He can place a puck where he wants to.”

When playing with Kessel and Brassard, coach Mike Sullivan said he expects Pearson to play more of a power-forward role.

“When you have Brass and Phil on a line that are pretty good playmakers that can shoot the puck and have good offensive instincts – not that (Pearson) doesn’t, we think he does – but the element that he really brings to that line is his ability to be good down in the corners, in the battle areas and most specifically at the net front.

“When the puck goes to the net, we’re trying to encourage him to be there. Make the goalie’s night difficult. Get in his sight lines. If he can’t control the rebound, sometimes that next play is the one that goes in the net.”

There has been much discussion about the potential for chemistry developing between Brassard and Kessel on the third line. If it does, it would give the Penguins the balanced, dangerous attack they crave.

Pearson thinks the combination has a chance to click, as it did in a 5-2 win over Detroit on Thursday.

“I think last game was pretty good,” Pearson said. “Hopefully we can look at that as a positive thing and keep playing like we did last game and we’ll give ourselves a chance every night.”

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 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.