Much was made of Phil Kessel‘s unfiltered rage during the second period of Game 2, and how it might have been directed at Evgeni Malkin.
For a while, it felt like his anger was symbolic of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ greater feelings, as they couldn’t seem to break through against the Ottawa Senators despite controlling virtually every aspect of about 20 minutes of game time.
Kessel might bark a lot, but he showed some bite in scoring the 1-0 goal. Check out that precious, rare tally in the video above.
Video: Phil Kessel opens scoring against his old team, as Maple Leafs look to clinch playoff spot
Of course, the Penguins and Kessel have a chance to spoil the party.
Kessel, who played 446 regular season games for Toronto before being traded to Pittsburgh in a blockbuster — and ripped in the media — and was part of the Maple Leafs’ shocking playoff collapse in 2013, opened the scoring just 6:11 into the first period.
He deployed that terrific wrist shot past the blocker of Frederik Andersen, giving Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.
Anxious Maple Leafs fans quickly rejoiced 29 seconds later, though, as James van Riemsdyk scored to tie the game, showing tremendous hand-eye coordination and a pretty good wrist shot of his own.
The play was reviewed for a possible offside, but the goal stood.
VIDEO: Phil Kessel sets up Hornqvist with clever lob pass from behind net
Phil Kessel has been one of the NHL’s best goal scorers for the majority of his career, but he doesn’t always get a lot of attention for his playmaking ability.
That was on display on display on Sunday afternoon against the Florida Panthers, and he needed to get a little creative to set up Patric Hornqvist for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first goal of the game.
With Kessel positioned behind the net, he quickly flipped the puck over the net to Hornqvist who was able to use his hand-eye coordination to bat the puck out of mid-air, beating James Reimer to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
It’s the type of play you can try a hundred times and are able to perfectly pull it off maybe once. This is about as perfect as it can get.
That assist for Kessel is his 41st of the season, giving him the team lead.
Phil Kessel, David Backes involved in Penguins – Bruins violence
During these polarized political times, many look to role models for inspiration to get along. That, uh … probably wouldn’t work out so well if you were trying to follow the lead of Phil Kessel and David Backes on Thursday.
OK, they probably didn’t get into a scuffle because of America – even Kessel needling the U.S. during the World Cup of Hockey, though there’s debate in that regard – but admit it; it’s fun to frame it that way.
Regardless, Thursday’s Boston Bruins – Pittsburgh Penguins game has been pretty dramatic, with Pittsburgh taking a 2-0 lead and then Boston charging back to go up 3-2 (at least temporarily).
With all apologies to the amusing lack of defense on Kessel’s goal, the violence brewing between the teams takes the cake, though.
You don’t get to see big names like Backes and Kessel go at it very often, even if this doesn’t really qualify as “fighting.”
So far, video isn’t available of their scuffle/roughing/etc., but there are GIFs. And they’re pretty entertaining.
It sure looks like Kessel started it, or at least was caught retaliating for something:
The Pittsburgh Penguins had their day at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Thursday, and it started in fine form.
“It is wonderful to be here, welcome to the White House,” President Barack Obama said in his opening remarks. “We are here to celebrate an extraordinary achievement — Phil Kessel is a Stanley Cup champion!”