Jake Guentzel is chasing a Stanley Cup. He is also on the brink of history as an NHL rookie in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Lining up on the wing alongside Sidney Crosby, Guentzel scored again last night, giving him 13 goals in the postseason. Unfortunately for him and his teammates, the Penguins were eventually overpowered in Game 3, as Nashville got back in the championship series with a 5-1 victory.
Guentzel remains one goal back of Dino Ciccarelli‘s postseason rookie record of 14 goals, accomplished in 1981. The Penguins forward, who split this season between Pittsburgh and the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, also has 20 points, which is, once again, only one behind the record.
“I hope he does break the record,” Ciccarelli told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “He has great instincts. He has a knack for the net.”
Guentzel, a third-round pick from the 2013 NHL Draft, has emerged as a potential Conn Smythe Trophy candidate. He has four points, all of them goals, in this series. That includes the winning goal in Game 1 after an unimaginable stretch of 37 minutes without a shot on net for the Penguins.
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“Well, I think he’s certainly made his influence on the playoffs for our team in such a positive way. He’s a great offensive player,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan on Sunday. “He’s got good instincts. We can play him with anybody. He just has the ability to make plays around him better. He’s got a nose for the net. He can score goals.”
He’s currently scoring goals at a rate that could soon put him in the record books. He’s moved into the conversation for the Conn Smythe, his production helping the Penguins to within two wins of claiming the Stanley Cup for a second straight year.
“You kind of have to soak it in,” Ciccarelli told the National Post. “I remember the older players saying enjoy this, because you never know when you’re going to get back. It took 15 years for me to get back.”
Game 4 of this series goes Monday in Nashville. The Penguins lead 2-1.