Kessel Snaps 16-Game Scoring Slump In Penguins 3-0 Win Over Columbus

A power play goal gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead and ended Kessel's scoring drought

Shelby Cassesse
March 07, 2019 - 10:38 pm

© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh (93.7 The Fan) - For the past five weeks, Penguins players and coaches would repeat "it's only a matter of time" when asked about Phil Kessel's scoring slump. 

For Kessel, that time came less than three minutes into Thursday night's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

While on the power play, Evgeni Malkin skated behind the net and found Kessel to the left of the net near the goal line. Kessel shot and the puck bounced off of Columbus goaltender Joonas Korpisalo and across the line. PPG Paints Arena erupted, and Kessel skated back to the bench with a smile.

It was his first goal since January 30. 

"It felt pretty good, right? It wasn't the greatest goal, but I'll take it," said Kessel.

Though celebrations were momentarily put on hold when Columbus challenged for goaltender interference, the goal stood. 

"You need a little luck," Kessel said. "I mean, fortunately I got it tonight and hopefully I can get some more luck the rest of the year. 

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan feels Kessel's goal could spark more from the Penguins winger.

"He tends to be streaky. When he gets one, he tends to get them in bunches. Let's hope moving forward here, it gives him a little bit more confidence. I know he puts pressure on himself, because he knows that's how he helps his team win games, and we rely on him to generate offense. We're excited for him." 

The goal was the first of the night for the Penguins in their dominating 3-0 win over Columbus and capped 36 days of frustration for Kessel.

Thursday's win gave the Penguins sole possession of third place in the Metropolitan Division and further separated them from the Blue Jackets and the Carolina Hurricanes in the standings. The Hurricanes did not play Thursday, but host Winnipeg Friday. The Penguins go into Columbus Saturday with 81 points.