Phil Kessel already had a goal and assist when he missed a second-period breakaway last night, and Columbus’ Scott Hartnell chirped him immediately after.
Hartnell probably called Kessel a cherry-picker (or some obscene variation thereof) – and boy, Kessel was way behind the defense.
Kessel just laughed at Hartnell, much like anybody who had two points that night would laugh at anybody who hadn’t scored a goal since Jan. 21.
Think about that: The guy with no goals in 34 games beaking the guy with two points that night.
Kessel had problems of his own as the regular season drew to a close, netting just twice in his last 26 games.
But he’s a legit playoff stud (45 points in 47 career post-season games) and provided two big moments in last night’s Game 1 victory over Columbus.
One was obvious: Kessel delivered a trademark wrister past the glove of Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. It was like Kessel shot a quarter into a Pepsi machine. The power-play tally gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead at 3:45 of the second period.
The other, which occurred 150 seconds earlier, was more subtle: Kessel took Evgeni Malkin’s pass with his skate, knocking it into the path of Bryan Rust, whose quick release resulted in the game’s first goal.
Kessel addressed those moments with the media afterward. Well, kind of.
Seeing Kessel at the podium, it was easy to tell he’d rather be anywhere else, doing anything else.
No complaint. Kessel can march to any drummer he wants when he delivers like he did last night.