Just as the Pittsburgh Penguins did in the Toronto bubble, the Penguins scored the next season’s first goal. Conor Sheary scored the first known NHL goal ever scored in July, last July 28, when the Penguins played the Philadelphia Flyers in the bubble exhibition game. New Penguins center Mark Jankowski followed suit on Wednesday evening.
Early in the first period of the first NHL game on the schedule, Mark Jankowski (1) tickled the twine, lit the lamp, and buried a nifty backhand pass from linemate Jared McCann. At 5:12 of the first period, here’s the finish:
There was considerable confusion and question if Jankowski actually scored. He celebrated. The TV broadcast credited him with a goal, but officials Terry Sutherland and Wes McCauley were less sure.
Jankowski headed towards the Pittsburgh Penguins bench to receive his congratulations but had to circle back to confirm with the officials that he did get the goal. The delay spoiled the big celebration for the first goal of the season.
Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty was not pleased. However, Philadelphia scored a pair of power-play goals later in the first period to take a 2-1 lead.
Jankowski played 4:15 in the first period. He had one shot on goal and two missed shots. The Penguins third line centered with Jankowski and speedy wingers McCann and Brandon Tanev provided the Penguins’ early offensive pressure. Moments after the trio broke through, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby drew a penalty, but the Penguins failed to score.
Last season, Jankowski had only seven points, including five goals in 56 games. The Penguins signed the free agent after Calgary Flames did not offer him a Qualifying Offer. He signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Penguins.