It took 10 games and some soul searching. It also took a little bit of message sending by head coach Mike Sullivan last Monday when he demoted Kasperi Kapanen to the fourth line for one practice.
It took 10 games, but Kasperi Kapanen finally cracked the score sheet later in the first period on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild. Linemate Jason Zucker intercepted a pass on the left-wing wall and fed the uncovered Kapanen in front of the net.
A nifty deke to the forehand beat Minnesota goalie Cam Talbot. Kapanen’s first of the season:
The double fist pump, yell, and the jubilant mob of linemates said it all. It’s been a frustrating start to the 2021-22 season. Last week, Kapanen admitted Sullivan had been hard on him, and he’s been hard on himself.
“I think right now it’s just been more me trying to get back to my game. I think I’ve kind of gotten away from that a little bit right now. And you know, he’s been hard on me this year, and he’s told, told you guys that,” Kapanen said. “But I think it’s just because he wants to bring the best out of me, and I haven’t been doing that nearly enough…”
Kapanen had a good pass earlier in the period and seemed to get a little jump from it.
Good little chip to the crease by Kapanen. Look for anything to jump start him. Zucker denied by Talbot.
— Dan Kingerski (@TheDanKingerski) November 6, 2021
This week, Kapanen also admitted he was struggling with his game. His answer indicated he was gripping his stick a bit tight and feeling the weight of the goalless start.
“It’s been a lot of ups and downs. It’s been some good games, and there have been some not-so-good games, and I don’t know what else to tell you right now. It’s just not bouncing for me,” said “Kapanen. “And I also think, you know, my work ethic and other stuff away from the pack needs to get better for me to get more chances… If I just keep going, maybe it’ll go off my skate or something.”
He didn’t need a cheapy off the skate or a lucky bounce. He earned the first tally.
With the good feelings flowing, Kapanen struck again two minutes later.
With the second ticking away in the first period, Kapanen drilled a drop pass from Evan Rodrigues to the far post and past Talbot, again. The PPG Paints Arena crowd which was still buzzing from
The pair of red lights gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes against the Minnesota Wild. The shots were even, though Minnesota had one SOG advantage, 11-10.
Update: Midway through the third period, as a Penguins power play was expiring, Kapanen ripped a shot off the crossbar behind Talbot. The puck caromed off a Minnesota defender and into the net. Big Jeff Carter immediately pointed to Kapanen and the hats rained down.