The scoring touch off the stick of Pittsburgh Penguins Jake Guentzel of Omaha, Nebraska has been one of the biggest stories of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. On Wednesday, Guentzel's goal scoring prowess continued as he scored his eighth goal in his first nine playoff games.
Guentzel scored an unassisted goal at 3:51 of the second period that put the Penguins up 2-0 on the Washington Capitals at the time. He then registered a power play assist on the game winning goal by Justin Schultz at 11:24 of the third period that put the Penguins up 3-2. With the 3-2 Penguins win, Pittsburgh now leads the best out of seven series three games to one.
Guentzel becomes only the second rookie ever in National Hockey League history to score eight goals in his first nine playoff games. The first NHL rookie to accomplish that feat was Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadiens back in 1944. Richard finished the 1944 playoffs with 12 goals in nine games. The others to accomplish the feat were NHL legends Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. Like Guentzel, Lemieux played for the Penguins and is currently the Penguins owner.
Guentzel was also a little lucky how he scored his eighth goal of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It went off of Dmitry Orlov's skate and into the net past Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby. With all of the talk of the outstanding rookie play this season of Auston Matthews, Patrick Laine, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Sebastian Aho, Matthew Tkachuk and Zach Werenski, one could argue that Guentzel's rookie offensive excellence deserves higher praise because of when he has accomplished his scoring touch--when the games matter the most in the Stanley Cup playoffs.