On Monday night, there were six Pittsburgh Penguins who played in all 39 games. Thursday night, there will be only five as All-Star winger Jake Guentzel underwent successful shoulder surgery Tuesday morning after crashing face-first into the boards midway through the third period of the Penguins 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators at PPG Paints Arena. He will be out 4-6 months according to Penguins GM Jim Rutherford.
The Penguins injury curse has been cruel this season. They have led the NHL for most of the season in terms of lineup significance, according to ManGamesLost.com.
The NHL named Guentzel to his first All-Star Game on Monday Afternoon. The 25-year-old winger led the Penguins with 20 goals and 43 points. He had three points on Monday night including his 20th goal, but before he could celebrate the goal he crossed with Ottawa defenseman Thomas Chabot and flew into the boards.
The injury immediately hushed the crowd and players. There was no goal celebration as Guentzel awkwardly slammed the boards. After a moment, he skated slowly, hunched over in obvious pain to the runway.
Team physician, Dr. Dharmesh Vyas and Dr. Ivan Tarkin of UPMC Orthopaedic Trauma Surgery performed the procedure at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital on Monday morning.
The remaining Penguins who have played in every game are Brandon Tanev, Zach Aston-Reese, Teddy Blueger, Dominik Simon and Marcus Pettersson. The Penguins injury list still includes Sidney Crosby, Justin Schultz, Brian Dumoulin, and Nick Bjugstad remain on IR.
Guentzel has been the lone mainstay on the Penguins top line this season. He anchored the left side with Sidney Crosby, as he did last year en route to a 40-goal season. After Crosby was placed on IR for core muscle surgery, Guentzel found quick chemistry with Evgeni Malkin.
Since Crosby left the lineup, Malkin has 32 points (9g, 23a) in 20 games and Jake Guentzel was firmly planted as his left wing.
Guentzel’s timeline could mean a return for the playoffs if the Penguins play into May, or it could mean he will not play again until next season. The Penguins injury curse continues.