ShareThis Page

Penguins' Bennett provides spark in Game 1 blowout

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 12:03 p.m.
The Penguins' Beau Bennett celebrates his goal with Mark Eaton, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin and Brenden Morrow during the first period against the Islanders Wednesday, May 1, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Beau Bennett celebrates his goal with Mark Eaton, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin and Brenden Morrow during the first period against the Islanders Wednesday, May 1, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.

In the moments before the puck dropped on the Stanley Cup playoffs at Consol Energy Center, powerful rays of sunshine slipped through the glass in the upper deck, illuminating the ice.

“Sunshine” did the same thing a few minutes later.

Rookie Beau Bennett, the California kid who some teammates refer to as “Sunshine,” lit up Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov with a wicked wrist shot that New York never recovered from in the Penguins' 5-0 victory.

Playing in his first playoff game, Bennett took the ice for the first time late on a Penguins' power play. He slipped down the right wing, then ripped a shot from the bottom of the circle that carried over Nabokov's left shoulder and pierced the netting inside the post.

“Not bad,” veteran defenseman Mark Eaton said of the young forward's postseason debut. “It was such a big goal for us. He got us going. I know he was excited to get into a playoff game, and he made the most of it.”

Bennett's goal triggered a Game 1 rout, and though the Penguins were smothering throughout the contest, the rookie stood out.

The Penguins' official Twitter feed mentioned moments before the game that Tyler Kennedy was starting on the fourth line instead of Bennett, setting the social media world into a frenzy. Then Bennett took the ice and made his presence felt immediately.

“He's been our next best power-play guy other than the guys in the top five,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “He's a guy who has played well without the puck. He's earned trust in that regard.”

Bylsma explained Wednesday morning that Bennett's work earlier in the season and in training camp convinced the coaching staff that the 2011 first round pick was ready for a postseason role. He played more regularly late in the regular season and finished with the sixth-best points-per-game total among NHL rookies.

Through one postseason game, he appears to only be getting better.

“A lot of guys would be pretty nervous playing in their first playoff game,” said center Brandon Sutter, who, incidentally, was playing in his first playoff game. “But Beau is so relaxed, so calm. I think that helped him a lot.”

The shot on the game's first goal appeared to catch Nabokov by surprise. Bennett politely explained that there was nothing accidental or lucky about it.

“It's a shot I work on quite a bit,” he said.

It appears likely that Bennett will remain in the lineup for a quite a while. His talent on the fourth line is rare, and should James Neal or Jussi Jokinen's injuries prove series, he appears next in line to move up to a top-six role.

“The skill he adds to the fourth line was not only evident on the great goal, but was evident five-on-five as well with some of the shifts he's had,” Bylsma said.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.