It really was only a matter of time before Pascal Dupuis
found the back of the net.
Dupuis’ frenzied push all began Saturday in Colorado, when he literally had about eight quality scoring chances that he just couldn’t convert.
That carried over into Monday’s game vs. Phoenix, where he again created a multitude of opportunities to tickle the twine that didn’t translate into points.
But that all changed on Wednesday, when Dupuis had a breakthrough game by scoring twice and adding an assist to lead the Penguins past the Maple Leafs, 3-2, at CONSOL Energy Center.
The victory was Pittsburgh’s seventh straight and the team improved to 14-1-1 when Dupuis scores a goal.
“I had a lot of opportunities there in Colorado and again last game here at home,” Dupuis said. “It feels good to win again and to help the team win. When they go in it’s always a big plus.”
Dupuis now has 17 goals this season and 40 points overall, which is the second-highest total of his career. His personal best of 48 points was achieved during the 2002-03 season when he played for the Minnesota Wild.
“After the Colorado game I said to Pascal, ‘you just need to hit the net now’ because he had some great chances to score there,” head coach Dan Bylsma smiled.
That’s exactly what Dupuis has been striving to do – and it’s paying off.
“I’m just putting pucks on the net,” he said of his success this year. “The more you get the better chance you have to score. … That’s what they ask everybody to do. Put a lot of pucks on net if you get the opportunities, and they’ll go in.”
But creating offense is just an added bonus to what Dupuis brings to this team, as he’s one of the team’s best defensive forwards and one of Pittsburgh’s strongest penalty killers.
“'Duper’ does a lot of other things really well,” defenseman Brooks Orpik
said. “He does penalty killing, he always plays in the last minute if we’re up by a goal. He’s always responsible defensively. It’s good to see him get rewarded offensively when he works that hard defensively.”
And another trait Dupuis possesses that may be a bit underrated is his versatility.
Dupuis can play anywhere and with anyone from the first to the fourth line, and he’ll do his part to make the line a successful one – which he’s doing right now with Jordan Staal
and Steve Sullivan
“I think tonight, Dupuis with that line – Staal and Sullivan – they really drove our team to the next level,” Bylsma said.
Overall, the three players have been building momentum since they were paired together on Feb. 18 in Philadelphia, and it’s starting to show with their dominant performances these last few games.
“I think we have a little bit of everything on that line,” Dupuis said. “We have Jordan (Staal), who can pretty much do everything. You have Steve (Sullivan) that is really, really poised with the puck and really patient. He always makes the right play out there. I try to bring speed and intensity. It seems to be working lately.”
Just like Dupuis does each and every night.