Zach Aston-Reese has been on the verge of a breakout with the Pittsburgh Penguins several times before. Injuries, bad luck, and embracing a role to the extreme limited or outright squashed his offensive contributions. It’s with a little bit of irony that this time his breakthrough is coming after an injury absence.
The undrafted free agent from Northeastern has had a few false starts. His run as a rookie in 2017-18 was ended by a broken jaw via a vicious cheap shot by Tom Wilson in Round two of the playoffs. His 2018-19 hot streak was ended when he broke his hand in the aftermath of a fight with now-teammate Colton Sceviour. Last season, he adopted a defensive posture as a fourth-liner and went to the extreme.
But Wednesday night, Aston-Reese’s resurgent season continued when he scored his seventh goal in 22 games.