During the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night clash against the New York Islanders, defenseman Mike Matheson made what some would consider an “unprompted” play in the offensive zone.
He called it “instinctual.”
From the blue line, Matheson snapped the puck off the end wall, and followed his own shot. Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese wasn’t yet wise to the next-level thinking by Matheson who jumped into the play after his own shot. Matheson snared the puck from Aston-Reese for a low wrister which led to a juicy rebound by New York goalie Semyon Varlamov. Teddy Blueger cleaned it for a 2-0 lead.
“It was just kind of an instinctual play. It wasn’t really something that I was looking to do before the game or anything like that,” Matheson demured. “They’re so good at blocking shots that I was just trying to get a lane by them. It felt like I could step in there and get behind their winger.”
Mike Matheson did that. The rest of the players on the ice watched the rest of the play as Blueger tapped it into the empty net.
Here’s a look at the play:
Can we please talk about Matheson's give-and-go to himself? pic.twitter.com/F5UBTqakZu
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 19, 2021
It wasn’t the only highlight of the game for Matheson, who enjoyed his best game in a Penguin uniform. He also contributed to the game’s opening goal as he saved the puck from going out of the offensive zone. That led to Sidney Crosby getting his first 5V5 goal of the season. He also was great defensively as he registered four takeaways.
For Blueger, it was his third goal of the season and his first since Jan. 22 against the New York Rangers. Aston-Reese also earned an assist on the play and now has four points in his first four games since returning to the lineup from offseason shoulder surgery.
The Penguins won the game 4-1, and this jaw-dropper was the game winning goal. The Pittsburgh Penguins are now 8-6-1. They’ll play New York again on Saturday night before a two-game set on the road against the Washington next week.