You don’t see goals like this too many times per season. The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Rangers 4-2 on Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena, but the star of the show was the 21-pass sequence which ended when Evgeni Malkin connected with Kasperi Kapanen in the slot.
Let’s repeat the highlight, 21 consecutive touches without interruption. Of course, winger Evan Rodrigues dove to retain possession. That was the 10th touch.
The story began with Evgeni Malkin, whose forecheck created a turnover and hard-around the wall. The Penguins gained possession and didn’t let go for about 40 seconds.
“It was one of the best shifts we’ve had all season. It was a clinic on puck possession,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “You know, those guys are so talented and so instinctive. When they possess the puck like that, they’re difficult to defend. And it was a goalscorer’s goal.”
Kapanen was the 22nd touch, and watch this goal:
Kapanen and Malkin have connected more often than any duo in the lineup over the last week. The Pittsburgh Penguins second line has been on the ice for six even-strength goals in the last five games. For advanced stat devotees, their advanced numbers would make one wince, but the puck is going in the net at a rate greater than opponents.
The goal was Kapanen’s seventh marker this season and continued an upward trend with Malkin. The Penguins were 4-1 on their five-game homestand, and the only loss was when they blew a 3-0 lead to Philadelphia in a game in which Penguins defenseman Kris Letang said, “We took our foot off the gas.”
Kapanen was the Penguins prized acquisition in August. The team gave Toronto their lottery draft pick, 15th overall, and swapped prospects for Kapanen. The forward is the Penguins leader in 5v5 points with 14. He scored only 13 goals in all of last season with Toronto.
With the assist, Malkin has a season-hight five-game point streak. The Penguins finally meet the hapless Buffalo Sabres on Thursday and Saturday in Buffalo before returning home for a pair against the Bruins.