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Hornqvist helps Pens get valuable point

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Two goals and a point for the Penguins - not a bad birthday present for Patric Hornqvist, who turned 33 years old on New Year's Day.

The Penguins winger scored both of Pittsburgh's goals in its 3-2 overtime loss to San Jose on Thursday at PPG Paints Arena, extending the team's unbeaten streak to 3-0-1.

The talk around the locker room the past couple of days - well, all season, really - is how different players need to step up through the influx of injuries, with Jake Guentzel being the latest Penguin to join the list.

Tonight, that player was Hornqvist, who just returned from a 10-game absence of his own coming out of the holiday break.

"He's great for our team," Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. "His energy is contagious. He's a real positive guy. I don't think the guy has ever had a bad day in his life. He comes in every day and he's got a smile on his face and he loves to play hockey. We love that about him. His energy on the bench is terrific. He's one of the most competitive guys that I've been around. He means a lot to this team both on the ice and off the ice."

On the ice, Hornqvist has been red-hot since returning - as he now has four points in his last two games (3G-1A). 

"I find pucks around the net and get some bounces," Hornqvist said. "Keep working hard for it. I think when you work hard for it you get bounces and that's what happened tonight for me."

On his first goal, Hornqvist capitalized on a turnover just inside the Sharks blue line. He skated straight to the net (to no one's surprise) and lined up a shot from between the hashmarks that beat Sharks goalie Aaron Dell.

On his second goal, Hornqvist was planted in his usual spot just outside the blue paint, where he banged his blade on the ice to let Bryan Rust know he wanted it. Rust obliged, and Hornqvist was able to beat Dell through an opening at the post as he went for the pokecheck.

Overall, Hornqvist now has 10 goals in 22 appearances this season. It will be hugely beneficial for the Penguins if he can keep producing at that rate as they continue to battle through the influx of injuries they've dealt with this season.

"It's been our story the whole year," Hornqvist said. "We have guys in and out of the lineup, big guys. We still find a way to really play good hockey. Credit to the coaching staff and the guys in here. We stick to the details and play hard for each other. If we do that in this league you give yourself a chance to win every single night."

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