It’s not likely to last for long.
Evander Kane, David Perron, Ryan O’Reilly and Leon Draisaitl all sit at seven total playoff goals heading into Sunday. All three could hit eight before their second-round series are over.
But as of May 22, one week after the Penguins were knocked out of the 2022 postseason in overtime of a first-round Game 7, Jake Guentzel still leads all playoff skaters in goals.
It stands as a cruel, but sweet, memory of how dominant the Penguins’ top line was in Pittsburgh’s brief playoff run. (Made sweeter, of course, by the news this line will return in 2022-23.)
During the Penguins’ previous three first-round exists, Guentzel scored just one goal each postseason, raising questions about if his 2016 and 2017 runs had been a fluke.
But 2022 proves Guentzel is still one of the most impactful players in Penguins postseason history.
This is Guentzel's 10th playoff series. He has 4+ goals in 6 of them.— Bob Grove (@bobgrove91) May 11, 2022
Guentzel’s first-round series against the Rangers marks just the fourth time in franchise history a player has scored eight or more goals in one series. The only others:
- Mario Lemieux racked up nine goals in a seven-game Patrick Division finals against the Flyers in 1989. On April 25, 1989, in what might be the most dominant single-game performance in NHL playoff history, Lemieux tied an NHL playoff record by scoring five times— including the fastest hat trick in postseason history, with three goals in the first seven minutes— to lead the Penguins to a 10-7 win in Game 5.
- Lemieux put up another eight in just five games against the Rangers during the 1996 second round. He registered a three-way hat trick (shorthanded, power-play, even-strength) during the clinching 7-3 Game 5 win on May 11, 1996. Jaromir Jagr contributed a hat trick of his own, for good measure.
- Sidney Crosby is the only other player than Lemieux and Guentzel to score eight times in a single playoff series for the Penguins. In 2009, 22-year-old Sid exploded for eight goals and 13 points in seven games against the Washington Capitals in the second round. That included an all-time classic Game 2 in D.C. on May 4, 2009, when Crosby and erstwhile rival Alex Ovechkin exchanged hat tricks.
Guentzel is the first Penguin to score eight times in one series at such a consistent rate the feat did not involve a hat trick. He tallied in every contest of the first round, except for during the Crosby-less Game 6.
That’s not only notable within the franchise. Guentzel’s first round marked just the 29th time in NHL history any player scored eight times in a single series.
Maybe it’s no surprise Guentzel still sits at the top of the postseason goalscoring race, one week after the Penguins were eliminated.