For encore, Penguins’ Jake Guentzel seeks power-play success
WASHINGTON, D.C. – After an historic game to finish off the Philadelphia Flyers, Jake Guentzel is ready for his encore.
Guentzel hopes to play a pivotal role once again when the Penguins open their Stanley Cup playoffs second-round series with the Washington Capitals on at 7 p.m. Thursday at Verizon Center.
“I feel good,” Guentzel said. “Obviously, you’ve got to turn the page. It’s a new series and a new team you’re playing against, so we’re taking it game by game and you go from there.”
For his next act, Guentzel will try to score on the power play.
Guentzel’s four-goal, five-point game in Game 6 against the Flyers on Sunday helped the Penguins overcome the injury to Evgeni Malkin, but none of Guentzel’s points came with the first-team power play.
Nor did Guentzel score with the man advantage when filling in for Patric Hornqvist in Game 4 of the first-round series, although his role in that game included more of a net-front presence.
The differences, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said, are subtle. Without Malkin parked at the right half-wall, the power play becomes more fluid with Guenztel and captain Sidney Crosby cycling the ice to create opportunities.
“You’re on the half-wall a little bit more or you’re in the slot a little bit more, so Sid’s been helping me out and just talking to me about what to expect a little bit,” Guentzel said. “It’s a little different.”
Guentzel enjoyed his time off but doesn’t want to disrupt his hot hand. He is tied with Crosby and Boston David Pastrnak for the NHL scoring lead (13 points) and Crosby for most goals (six) and is tied for second in assists (seven). Guentzel leads all players at plus-10.
“Jake is such a cerebral player,” Sullivan said. “His greatest asset is probably his hockey sense and his ability to read plays and see the ice and find the soft areas and support the puck. He’s just really good at that. Regardless of where we use him, he has the ability to make those adjustments.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review sports columnist. You can contact Kevin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .