Make it seven for James Neal. Neal added his seventh goal of the season as the Penguins handily beat Montreal 3-1 in the Steel City, tying him for the league lead in goals scored with Phil Kessel.
Seeing Neal turn into a goal-scoring freak is a blessing for the Penguins given all their injuries to their offensive skill superstars as well as a huge weight off of Neal’s own shoulders. Neal came into the season after a miserable time last year that saw him struggle to score goals for the Penguins after being traded by Dallas.
Neal came in with the hopes and aspirations of being the guy that rides shotgun with either Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby. So far he’s gotten more time with Jordan Staal and this season, he’s become their lamp lighter extraordinaire.
Making things more fun for Neal? Trying to prove Pens beat writer Rob Rossi wrong for saying he would only score 17 goals this year. If Neal keeps scoring like this, he’ll have 17 before December. If he gets Malkin and/or Crosby to center him he could get 17 by Veteran’s Day. For now, Neal is just happy to see the pucks finding the back of the net and not the posts.
Here’s Neal’s goal tonight that put the Penguins up 1-0.