Kessel's 16-Game Scoring Drought Met With Ovation From Fans

Shelby Cassesse
March 06, 2019 - 2:40 pm

© Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - Phil Kessel's 16-game scoring slump isn't for a lack of chances, and after a few more scoring chances came and went in the second period Tuesday night against Florida, Kessel skated back to the bench unsuccessful again. 

The scoreboard camera focused on Kessel, and the arena erupted, showing their support for the beloved winger.

"I just think it's an indication of the fan support that we have," said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan after practice Wednesday. "We're so appreciative of what they do for our players and our team, and I'm sure Phil appreciates it, as well."

It looks like Kessel has a sense of humor about. In Wednesday's practice, Kessel scored on Matt Murray. The rest of the team cheered, forcing a smile from Kessel and a lift of his stick into the air. 

"Goal scorers go through that sometimes," said Erik Gudbranson. "They go through slumps and this fanbase seems unflinching to that, and then they're behind him. He's going to break it. It's just a matter of time, and hopefully for him, I would imagine it feels good to have that backing."

Though Jake Guentzel was the hero in Tuesday's game, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime, he took notice of the fan reaction. 

"That was pretty cool, I think. He's so close right now that you know one of these games he's going to break through. Just to see the crowd back him up like that, I mean that's a pretty cool to see and be a part of that."

Since his last goal on January 30, Kessel has 11 assists, and players and coaches alike seem to think a goal isn't far behind. 

"He's playing hard right now," said Sullivan. "He's getting a lot of quality scoring chances. It's only a matter of time, in my opinion, when the puck goes in the net for him. When you're getting the types of looks that he's gotten over the last handful of games, the puck has to go in. He's just too talented a guy. He's had some real high-quality looks, and so once that first one goes in for him, we're hoping that it will go in in bunches.”

Notes From Wednesday's Practice

Kris Letang skated in a red non-contact jersey. Patric Hornqvist was not at practice for a maintenance day. 

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