BUFFALO, N.Y. – In the waning moments of Tuesday’s win over the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist came to the conclusion that this just might not be his year when it comes to scoring goals.
Forty-eight hours later, after scoring a second-period power-play goal that helped his team to a 5-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night, Hornqvist had changed his tune.
The moment of self-doubt came with less than 30 seconds left in the Penguins’ 4-2 win over the Capitals. Hornqvist had a shot at an empty net from the red line, but it took a deflection, skipped off the ice, hit the crossbar and nestled in the protective netting behind the cage.
His teammates had a good laugh on the bench.
Now, Hornqvist can join them.
“They should laugh,” Hornqvist said. “That bounce you will never see again and all that, and it happened to me. We can all laugh about it now. It didn’t matter that much. We were up and we won the game and we came back today and played really well.”
The Penguins were locked in a scoreless battle with the sagging Sabres on Thursday night when they used a pair of power-play goals to claim momentum.
The first was a tic-tac-toe passing play from Jake Guentzel to Sidney Crosby to Phil Kessel. Hornqvist scored the second, lifting a deflected Kessel centering pass to the top corner of the net.
“Overall, the first period was not great from either side,” Hornqvist said. “Then we got that power play. When you see something like that, when they pick them apart, it (provides) momentum and confidence and we got our legs.”
The goal helped Hornqvist continue his climb out of a long midseason slump. He didn’t score a goal in 17 games from Jan. 8 through the end of February, but he has two goals and five assists in his last 10 games.
“If you do the right things over and over, it’s going to come,” Hornqvist said.
Coach Mike Sullivan agreed.
“He’s playing a lot better,” Sullivan said. “He’s chipping in with some goals. He’s going to the net. He’s doing the things that he does. When he stays with it and just continues to play the game the right way, he’s going to find the net. He’s around the net so much.”