Penguins move Jake Guentzel to top power-play unit for Game 4
Jake Guentzel talked about Game 4 being a chance for the Pittsburgh Penguins to do “something special,” and that starts with moving the winger to the top special-teams unit.
Looking for a way to spark the Penguins with a man advantage in the Stanley Cup playoffs, coach Mike Sullivan switched the team’s top goal scorer to the top power-play unit.
Sullivan’s explanation for the move was as much out of self-deprecation as desperation, with the Penguins trailing the New York Islanders, 3-0, going into Game 4 on Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena.
“I joke with Jake a lot sometimes,” Sullivan said. “I always say to him, ‘Do you ever go home and say, ‘This coach is crazy. I’m the leading goal scorer on the team and I’m on the second power play?’ There’s some validity to that.”
In a lighter moment amid tense times, Sullivan was asked about the response he got from Guentzel, who scored 40 goals in the regular season for the first time in his career.
“His answer was politically correct,” Sullivan said, with a smile. “He said, ‘We’ve got a pretty good power play.’ ”
The Penguins, however, entered Game 4 at 1 for 8 on the power play in this series, including 0 for 3 in Game 3 on Sunday at home, but Sullivan believes they are close to scoring.
Guentzel replaces Patric Hornqvist in the hope his presence around the net can create room for shooters and he can use his touch to find the net, whether with deflections or rebounds.
“I think they’ve been getting chances,” said Guentzel, who had six goals and five assists on the power play during the regular season. “It’s just that sometimes the bounces aren’t going the right way. I’m going to try to get to the front of the net and create some space for them.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .