Penguins winger Sullivan looking to finish
LOS ANGELES — Left wing Steve Sullivan is delighted to see the Penguins' power play thriving since his arrival and is pleased to see linemates Evgeni Malkin and James Neal producing loads of goals.
But he wouldn't mind lighting the lamp himself.
Sullivan, 37, has been around long enough to know that squeezing the stick harder when you're struggling is natural, and he is honest enough to admit it is weighing on his mind.
"It's human nature," he said. "You tell yourself to stay relaxed and to not worry about it, that it will come. But when (scoring goals is) what you love to do, and what you think you're here to do, it becomes a little stressful."
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma recently talked with Sullivan, and the message was clear. The team wants to see Sullivan start scoring, but they are pleased with his play. The goals, Bylsma said, will come.
"If you're looking for goals to be an indicator of whether you're playing well or not," Bylsma said, "then he's not going to be feeling too well about his game, obviously.
"He's going to get a goal. That will happen."
The coach insisted Sullivan is playing well and that his skill and intangibles exceed the score sheet.
Sullivan was signed by general manager Ray Shero largely to improve the Penguins' power play. It ranks eighth in the league, up from 25th at the end of last season.
His work on the power play, and that he's enjoyed numerous scoring opportunities, leaves Sullivan feeling some confidence.
"The best thing is that we're winning hockey games," Sullivan said. "Those goals I'm trying to get haven't been needed lately. But when the time comes when they are needed, I'll be there to answer the call."
Sullivan thought he had his first goal of the season last Saturday in Toronto, but his shot into a seemingly open net was snagged by Maple Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson.
"I think he already put that one in the column," Bylsma said.
Sullivan has proven to be a steady left wing for Malkin, with whom he has enjoyed immediate chemistry. Now it's just a matter of looking to score more.
"Coach and I talked," Sullivan said. "If I get as many chances in the next 13 games as I got in the first 13 games, the goals will come."Additional Information:
Penguins at Kings
When/where: 10:35 p.m. Saturday/Staples Center, L.A.
TV/radio: Root Sports/WXDX-FM (105.9), Penguins Radio Network
Records: Penguins 8-3-3; Kings 6-4-2
Notable: C Mike Richards, a former Penguins foe while he played for Philadelphia, has produced 10 points in 12 games with the Kings and figures to be matched up defensively against C Evgeni Malkin.