Penguins move Jake Guentzel to top power-play unit for Game 4 |
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Kevin Gorman

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.”

Guentzel has had his share of scoring opportunities — Sullivan said he and the coaching staff counted three “high-quality chances” in Game 3 — but had yet to register a point through the first three games of the best-of-seven series.

“Jake had some pretty good scoring chances in the last game,” Sullivan said. “He usually scores when he gets those looks. We’ll just stay with it. He’s a good player. We have some flexibility with our power play. We’ve moved different guys there all year long. This isn’t anything new and our group is familiar with it.”

Keep up with the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.

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