WASHINGTON — Amid an historic playoff scoring run that put him in the same company as Mario Lemieux, Jake Guentzel referred the root of the first line’s success to Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.
“Sid’s leading the way, just with the way he’s playing and the plays he’s making,” Guentzel said. “It’s pretty easy for us. We just have to find those areas where he’s doing a great job for us.”
Guentzel, however, is doing something Crosby never did.
The 23-year-old left wing has scored 10 goals in each of his first two playoffs, joining Lemiuex as the only players in NHL history to accomplish that feat. Where Guentzel won the Stanley Cup as a rookie, the Penguins didn’t make the playoffs in Crosby’s first season or make it out of the first round in his second.
Jake Guentzel has scored 10+ goals in each of his two postseasons.The only other player to do that in NHL history?Mario Lemieux, who scored at least 10 in each of his first three postseasons per @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/U17c2Nf7Vp
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 4, 2018
Guentzel leads all scorers in the playoffs with 10 goals and 21 points, including a four-goal game in Game 6 of the first-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers. Guentzel already has matched his point production from the 2017 playoffs (13 goals, eight assists).
“The nerves and excitement that you get playing at this time, you want to be a part of this and you want it to go on as long as you can,” Guentzel said. “It’s definitely a fun time to play in.”
#Pens Jake Guentzelnow has 41 points in 35 career playoff games (1.17 per game). Here’s the list of players with more playoff PPG w/35+ games played:GretzkyLemieuxMessierBossyOrrThat’s the list.
— Corey Masisak(@cmasisak22) May 4, 2018
Is this the stat of the day?Most Goals Per Game in NHL Playoff History (min 35 GP): 1. Mario Lemieux – 0.71 2. Jake Guentzel– 0.66 3. Mike Bossy – 0.66 4. Maurice Richard – 0.62 5. Cam Neely – 0.61 6. Wayne Gretzky – 0.59
— Tim Micallef(@tim_micallef) May 4, 2018
Guentzel is no stranger to postseason success, having led the University of Nebraska-Omaha to the Frozen Four and finished tied for fifth in the league in Calder Cup playoffs scoring with 14 points (five goals) for AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2016, despite playing in only 10 games. (He was tied with Washington’s Jakub Vrana).
“You look back at last year maybe a little bit,” Guentzel said, “but each year brings a new challenge, and you’ve got to be on top of your game.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.