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Breaking down Phil Kessel’s first goal from last nights win against the Red Wings

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Let’s take a look at the first of Kessel’s two goals last night. It featured some all-world playmaking.

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins found themselves in a situation yet again where they needed to come from behind and storm back to tie and/or win a game last night. Trailing the Red Wings by scores of 2-0 and 3-1, they came back to win the game by a score of 5-3.

Two goals scored by Phil Kessel certainly helped make this a possibility. Down 2-0, his first goal brought the deficit back to just one goal.

What a pass from Malkin. That’s a silly level of skill and vision. Let’s take a look at how quickly that came together.

It all starts with Marc-Andre Fleury on this one. With Luke Glendening pressing high on Fleury, he quickly shuffles the puck to his right to Justin Schultz.

Schultz holds the puck long enough to have a clear passing lane and makes the D-to-D pass across to his left to Ian Cole.

As the Red Wings go for a line-change, Cole moves the puck north, and hits Carl Hagelin at the opposing blue line.

Hagelin takes the puck, and at this point, the Penguins don’t have any type of numbers advantage or a specific positioning advantage either. It appears that the Red Wings are set up to defend this well.

Hagelin then makes the move that kids are taught to make when they’re playing in a league with a ringer — give the ringer the puck/ball and get the hell out of the way. Hagelin does this, leaving the puck for Evgeni Malkin.

Here is where the Red Wings lose their positioning and advantage in defending. As Malkin carries the puck, both defensemen, Xavier Ouellet and Jonathan Ericsson, focus on Malkin, leaving Kessel to streak in on goal alone.

Malkin puts it right on Kessel’s tape and that’s over and done with for Detroit.

Nine seconds from Marc-Andre Fleury’s stick in the defensive end to the back of the net in the offensive end. That’s a quick transition game, and that’s the type of game the Penguins can succeed with.

From the reverse angle, you can really see the space that was afforded to Kessel, and that’s all on Ericsson. He was with him and just lost his space.

I understand that a lot of times, teams feel the need to focus on the superstar more than the role players, but three Detroit players all within reaching distance focusing on Malkin, leaving Phil Kessel wide open is less than ideal.

Same, Phil. Same.