The Pittsburgh Penguins have been heavily reliant on their star players to produce points, often dragging along the team without too much help.
The support players stepped up big on Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets, keying a rare third period comeback for Pittsburgh. Fourth liner Derek Grant scored his first goal of the season to tie the game at 3.
Our wish for a third goal... It has been GRANTed.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 28, 2018
Wilson with an assist (his first NHL point). Maatta with the other assist (his 100th NHL point). pic.twitter.com/Gj1Cbm1s7N
Third liner Zach Aston-Reese scores his second of the season that eventually stood as the game winning goal.
Earlier in the game fourth liner Riley Sheahan scored just his second goal of the season.
Sidney Crosby got the Pens on the board in the first period with another signature backhand goal.
Crosby doing Crosby things. pic.twitter.com/PDGSJtBTME— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 28, 2018
But it would be the depth players instrumental in this game.
“It’s huge when you get contributions from throughout your lineup,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “Especially the bottom six. It makes us that much more difficult to play against. On a night like tonight, that’s the difference in the hockey game.”
Sullivan must be feeling good about his lineup decision to include Grant, who made his return from injury. The Winnipeg Jets are the league’s tallest team and one of the heaviest too, so no doubt the coach was looking to add Grant’s size at 6’3, 215 pounds back into the lineup. Grant replaced Daniel Sprong (healthy scratch).
Garrett Wilson picked up an assist on Grant’s goal, marking his first career NHL point in 40 games.
“I’m sure the guys in Wilkes are all fired up right now,” Aston-Reese said. “I’m fired up for him. He’s worked so hard. He’s been such a good leader in Wilkes. He’s a good friend of mine. I’m really excited for him.”
The good feelings are spread all around right now. Pittsburgh improves their record to 9-8-5 and has now taken 8 of the last 10 possible points in the standings after briefly falling to last place in the conference.