It didn’t take long for the Pittsburgh Penguins to get on the board in their 5-0 win against the Carolina Hurricanes Sunday afternoon at CONSOL Energy Center.
At the 16-minute mark in the first period, Olli Maatta took a drop-pass from Evgeni Malkin just inside the offensive zone that setup the 21-year old’s fifth goal of the season.
But a key factor in the score was newly acquired winger Carl Hagelin, who boxed out his defender at the crease long enough for Maatta to deke inside, and drill a top corner, stick-side shot to give the Pens’ an early 1-0 lead.
Hagelin, of course, was recently brought to the Steel City from Anaheim in exchange for David Perron and Adam Clendening.
Without a single practice under his belt, Hagelin was thrown into the fire, but did what he was asked as the Pens’ newest member: add speed and create chaos.
“I’m just trying to play my game” Hagelin said. “I try to use my speed, create turnovers and drive through the middle to create ice for my teammates, and I think I did that today.
“My legs are feeling good, and I had a couple chances. Obviously I didn't bury, but I’m not going to sit here and talk about myself, because we won 5-0 and it’s a team game that matters.”
Hagelin has made his mark in the NHL as a premiere speedster that can add pace to any line, but is also a nice addition to the penalty kill, which is exactly what head coach Mike Sullivan wanted with the acquisition.
Because of the recent injury to Nick Bonino the Pens needed to find another strong penalty-killer, and Hagelin added some valuable PK time in his first appearance. He helped the Pens PK unit go 4-for-4.
“I’ve been PK’ing for a while now in this league,” Hagelin said. “I think experience is key when it comes to the PK, and obviously we didn’t let in any goals today so that’s a good thing.
“You can always get better, but we got the two points and that’s all that matters.”
Sullivan and Hagelin both worked together in New York, while the Pens’ head coach was an assistant with the Rangers. Now, three years later, the two are reunited with one another in Pittsburgh.
“I was a young guy when I came up, but he was a really good coach,” Hagelin said. “He was there for me when I needed it, and he obviously gave me good advice.”
In his first game with the Pens, Hagelin registered just over 13 minutes on the ice, and finished with four shots on goal. But the box score isn't always an indicator of a player’s performance.
“I thought he was solid,” Sullivan said. “I think his speed is evident, and the more he gets to play with ‘Geno’ and the other guys, the more familiar he’ll get with them. It’ll allow him to get better. But I think his speed is evident and gives him the ability to create plays.”
Written by CJ Harvey