UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Patric Hornqvist is a warrior. That's never something anyone should question. He takes regular abuse, doesn't get the calls he deserves and he keeps on ticking. And sometimes it boils over and he loses his cool.
With Matt Murray pulled, down 3-1(which stayed as the game's final), Hornqvist was behind the Islanders' net and attempted a wrap-around chance into the pads of Robin Lehner. The Penguins pushed at the loose puck but couldn't score and Hornqvist cross-checked Casey Cizikas in the back to put him on the ice in front of his goaltender.
The puck was leaving the zone, Cizikas challenged Hornqvist back and the two exchanged stick play and shoves in the slot above Lehner. Nothing abnormal about the challenging of each other -- the game was chock full of scraps and skirmishes. The problem, though, was that with 3:11 on the clock, needing two goals, the Penguins were unable to re-enter the zone as Hornqvist engaged Cizikas.
Watch the left side of the frame as the Penguins are clearing the zone. You'll see Hornqvist turn back to confront Cizikas just before the camera moves too far. Then, when Erik Gudbranson holds the puck for a few seconds and looks for help, there is nowhere for him to go with it as Hornqvist casually drifts out of the zone.
The Islanders get the puck and continue to eat precious seconds in a rather influential Game 2.
It was a smart play by the Islanders' aggressor. If he goes to the box, chances are Hornqvist goes with him. If all that happens is he ties up No. 72 ... well, then the Penguins can't get into the zone and on the attack. Win-win.
The first photo up top is of that confrontation with the rest of the game's best images following behind it.
Hornqvist was abused per usual in this game. You can see a glimpse of that in the top left of this goal-scoring frame taken on Gudbranson's first as a Penguin. Hornqvist was getting a big sniff as he set the screen for the opening goal:
[caption id="attachment_806137" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
That's never really not the case. And he dished it back a little more than normal -- including this hit on Anders Lee near the end of the second period:
[caption id="attachment_806138" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
He also gave his best Greg Louganis when challenged lightly, was chewed out by Mike Sullivan on the bench in the middle of the game and, although it was unlikely the Penguins would pull off the two-goal comeback in this one, tied his teammates hands by tying up Cizikas.
[caption id="attachment_806140" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
Even when Hornqvist is failing to score, he always justifies his use in Sullivan's lineup. He loses his cool, but hardly ever in a way that hurts the team long-term. This time, though, he went too far.
Simply another example of the Penguins' talents losing their cool and their head and putting the team at a disadvantage. It's a theme through two games.
The good news for Hornqvist is he only has to sleep one more time before getting another chance at the Islanders.