Penguins fans show support for slumping Phil Kessel with ovation | TribLIVE.com
Penguins/NHL

Penguins fans show support for slumping Phil Kessel with ovation

Jonathan Bombulie
840901_web1_gtr-pens05-030619
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo makes a save on the Penguins’ Phil Kessel in the first period Tuesday, March 5, 2019 at PPG Paints Arena.

Phil Kessel has been a popular player in Pittsburgh since joining the Penguins in a 2015 trade.

On Tuesday night, fans at PPG Paints Arena showed just how much they adore the affable goal-scoring right wing with a remarkable second-period ovation.

Kessel is mired in a career-long 16-game goal drought. With each passing scoring chance that doesn’t find the back of the net, his frustration grows more and more obvious.


In the first period of a 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins, Kessel had two point-blank chances in front of goalie Roberto Luongo but could not score. He looked to the sky in exasperation.

With about eight minutes left in the second period, he parked himself at the left post and tried a difficult spinning redirection of an Evgeni Malkin pass. The puck dribbled to Luongo, who covered it for a faceoff.

As Kessel skated to the bench talking to himself, his image was shown on the arena’s video board.

The crowd responded with a rousing ovation, clearly offering support to their beleaguered favorite. Nary a boo was heard.

Captain Sidney Crosby noticed.

“I thought it was awesome, the reception and the way the fans were encouraging him out there tonight,” Crosby said. “It hasn’t been easy for him, but he continues to find ways to create chances and do things out there. For them to recognize that and stick behind him and encourage him, that’s huge and gave us a big boost.”

Kessel recorded an assist when the rebound of his shot from the right wing on a second-period power play banked off Luongo’s pads to Crosby for a goal from the slot.

Kessel had five shots on goal, running his total to 25 over the past six games.

“I just know he’s close,” Crosby said. “I know he’s going to explode here one of these games.”

Follow the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Penguins | Top Stories
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.