How do you get an NHL assist without ever stepping on the ice? The Pittsburgh Penguins equipment staff can show you the way.
During a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, Sidney Crosby found himself streaking up the ice without a stick. But that was a problem the team's associate head equipment manager, Jon Taglianetti, was uniquely qualified to solve. Taglianetti handed Crosby a stick and Crosby, of course, immediately scored.
Taglianetti would get credited for the assist, at least according to the Penguins official Twitter account.
Just before the rush, Crosby gave his stick up to teammate Brian Dumoulin while the Penguins were still in their own zone. Dumoulin broke his during a scrum behind the net seconds earlier. It turned out to be a great decision as Dumoulin was the one who regained possession of the puck and fed Kris Letang who bolted up the ice.
Crosby trailed the play after getting a new stick via a seamless, in-stride handoff from Taglianetti and slammed home Letang's rebound.
Immediately after the goal, the entire Penguins bench turned and mobbed Taglianetti for the heads-up play.
Though the Penguins eventually lost the game, there was no shortage of praise for the play.
"Heck of a play by 'Tags' there. I mean, I just saw Sid coming to the bench. Tags was running around and throwing him the stick. It's a great read to follow the play and find the loose puck," said newly acquired forward Jeff Carter.
"We have a great crew. Obviously, sometimes if the goalie has an equipment problem or a player breaks his stick, we have a crew that's fast-acting guys. On that play, they were quick to figure out that Sid lost his stick and they did a good job giving him one for the goal," said Letang.
"It was so great. It was a heads up play by Tags to get Sid's stick, in particular. He was able to get his stick to him. He was hanging over our players to get it out there so Sid can grab it in stride. When Sid scored the goal, the players went crazy and rallied around him," said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. "They're as committed as our players to help us win games. Those types of moments are great. I'm sure it was a big moment for Tags, but it was big for our team. The raw emotion you witness is an indication of how our guys feel about Tags. If we could've won the game, Tags might have gotten the helmet at the end."
- NHL.com Independent Correspondent Wes Crosby contributed to this report.