Yeah, Phil Kessel scored once before in this past week, breaking his 16 game drought, but it was a pretty greasy goal. It wasn't a Phil Kessel goal.
When it comes to Kessel scoring, we've become accustomed to the goal-scorer's goals he normally racks up. The greasy one was different, but one he needed to start scoring again.
Flying down the right wing, ripping wrist shots through defenders and goaltenders who have a better chance at winning the arena's nightly 50/50 than making the save. That is the Kessel Pittsburgh is used to.
Kessel didn't have to wait another 16 games to score again. He went goal-less in the weekend's back-to-backs, but found the net in Tuesday's 5-3win over the Capitals. And this time, he did find the net -- literally.
The puck didn't need to leap sticks and bounce through bodies. Nor did it need the help of Patric Hornqvist influencing the netminder. And it definitely didn't need to survive a challenge.
Kessel was in his typical power play position, working his shooting wing from the net to the top of the circles. Evgeni Malkin moved the puck to Justin Schultz who ... passed it ... off Braden Holtby's pads to Kessel.
Kessel lowered his mass, squared to the net and sent the puck flipping dangerously close to the far post. It wasn't close enough, though, and it found a home in the netting.
That's when Kessel spun, flung his arms to his sides, looked through the two Stanley Cup banners he contributed to and into the heavens above and just ... sighed with his entire body.
That's the image I chose to kick off this View. Malkin and Sidney Crosby are seen celebrating in much more typical fashion. Yeah, he got that goal on Thursday night, but a shot this Tuesday found its way into the netting. Next step? I imagine the next step is for Kessel to beat a goalie looking at him shooting. When he beats a goalie with one of his hopping wristers ... that's when Kessel will be back.
[caption id="attachment_791455" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
For now, he has two goals in four games and got Malkin into the 1,000 point club. He even went to the scorekeeper to retrieve the puck for Malkin. For now, that will have to do.
"You can't deter Tom Wilson."
I've seen that in comments, on Twitter, in Live Qs and in conversation with fans, friends and other media members. Most commonly, it came up when talking about Ryan Reaves being traded from the Penguins after acquiring him to protect the team from Wilson.
It continued when Brian Dumoulin was injured in the playoffs by Wilson. And again when Zach Aston-Reese had his season ended, and his next season with the big club delayed ... by Wilson.
When I talked to Reaves earlier in the season, he looked back in confusion as to why the Penguins traded him before he was able to do the job he was acquired for.
There's a rose-colored tint when fans look back at Reaves being traded. At the time, it would have unanimously been viewed as a positive. Derick Brassard was the guy who could send the Penguins to a third Stanley Cup by deploying a third scoring line.
Brassard is long gone, and the Penguins have chosen to get bigger through Jim Rutherford's 2018-19 dealings. The latest? Well, he's not Reaves, but Erik Gudbranson is a big man who is as friendly in the locker room as he is fierce when defending his teammates.
Tuesday, he deterred Wilson. And if you don't want to call it deterring ... well, then he took Wilson out of the equation.
It started out much earlier in the game. At the first sign of any type of mix-up, Gudbranson broke the rules by joining the scrum, making sure that if Wilson was going to talk to anyone, it was going to be him.
Talk, he did. This was a sequence of photos from that first encounter in the game:
[caption id="attachment_791427" align="aligncenter" width="1500"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_791429" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_791430" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
The two talked, and talked some more. It started with Wilson looking as if he was whispering to Gudbranson while Gudbranson laughed it off. The officiating crew made sure it stopped there and escorted the two away from the corner as they kept exchanging words.
The third period, though, that's when things got interesting.
[caption id="attachment_791438" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
During a mix up near Matt Murray's cage, Wilson and Jake Guentzel started smelling gloves involuntarily, and that's where Gudbranson stepped in to stop Wilson from getting any further with the Penguins' best goal-scorer.
[caption id="attachment_791439" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
He may have been willing to listen to Wilson when they were in the talking phase of the relationship, but mixing things up with Guentzel went too far for the big defenseman ... so he tackled Wilson to the ice, taking a diving linesman with him.
The two didn't get fighting majors, but Wilson did enough in return to go to the box for two minutes. It wasn't for lack of trying for more, though. Both guys, despite having the bodies in stripes holding them back, got to their feet and tried to fight through the restraints to take each other on.
[caption id="attachment_791440" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
That's when I imagine Wilson said something to Gudbranson about the fact that he lost his helmet, but Gudbranson still had his while they were attempting to go at it. It's surprising big No. 44 still had it on considering he was losing just about everything else.
Gudbranson reached up, unclipped his chin strap and shed his helmet to the ice as the crowd kept its roar that began with the initial tackle.
Again, Wilson went to the box for just two minutes with Gudbranson. Call it what you want. Call it a deterrent, call it a reaction, call it a warning for next time. But, the rest of the third period was much calmer than it should have been.
The two guys talked the entire time in the box, and not with library voices. I expected more to happen the second they got out of the box, but it didn't. And it stayed that way until Wilson was escorted from the ice as the Penguins celebrated their win:
[caption id="attachment_791453" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]