With a torrid stretch of play in March (9-2-3, with an NHL-best 21 points), the Penguins have gone from being on the fringes of the playoff race to pushing the Capitals and Islanders for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. A team that looked like it might be one-round-and-done this spring now looks capable of making a deeper run. If you want to nit-pick, though, the Penguins still aren't playing terribly well during five-on-five play. They're 22nd in the NHL this month in five-on-five goals scored per 60 minutes (1.88) and rank 13th in Corsi For percentage (50.8), which is the share of overall shots that a team generates. For the season, Pittsburgh ranks seventh in goals per 60 minutes during five-on-five situations (2.75) and 15th in Corsi (49.5 percent shot share).
No player embodies the Pens' five-on-five scoring challenges more than Phil Kessel, who last netted an even-strength goal on January 30 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. As usual, Kessel has been ultra-productive on the power play and is averaging a point per game overall in 2018-19. But five-on-five, the Penguins need more offense from Phil. The good news? While the goals haven't started flowing, Kessel is showing signs of rounding into his dangerous playoff form--and not just on the power play.