Newly acquired Nick Bjugstad laments missed chances in Penguins loss to Toronto
TORONTO – By racing in from the airport and turning in a strong performance in his first home game just hours after being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, forward Nick Bjugstad already made a good first impression on his new team.
On Saturday, he just missed a couple of chances to turn that impression from good to great.
Bjugstad was turned away by goalie Garret Sparks on two great scoring chances in the first period of a 3-2 Penguins loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Less than eight minutes into Saturday’s game, linemate Phil Kessel fed Bjugstad with a pass that left his charging down the slot. He shot into Sparks’ chest. A few minutes later, Kessel hit Bjugstad on the left wing for an open shot that couldn’t get past the Toronto goaltender.
“You want chances, but when you’re not scoring, it’s a little frustrating,” Bjugstad said. “You want to help the team and make a difference. Obviously early in the game, I had a few there. That’s how it goes. Gotta bear down. Obviously I’d like to have those back.”
As much as Bjugstad would have liked to score on those chances, he’ll probably appreciate what’s ahead of him Sunday almost as much.
The Penguins will have the day off. After his whirlwind arrival from Florida, it’s probably exactly what he needs.
“It’s been a crazy 24 hours,” Bjugstad said. “It will be good to get a few days rest and then get back into it.”
Coach Mike Sullivan said he didn’t think Bjugstad’s line with Kessel and Bryan Rust was as effective as it was in a 5-3 win over Ottawa the night before.
In general, though, he likes Bjugstad’s upside.
“I think Nick can bring a lot,” Sullivan said. “He’s got great offensive instincts. He’s a good 200-foot player. His size, he skates well, he’s got a real long wingspan, he protects pucks, he’s hard to get the puck off of. We’re a team that likes to hold onto pucks and force teams to have to defend us. He can play that type of a game.
“We like his versatility. We can use him on the wing. We can use him at center. When we get a full complement of players, that’s when we’ll have a better idea of where we’re at.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at email@example.com or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .