Patric Hornqvist is the kind of player who doesn't need any extra motivation. As Evgeni Malkin said recently, he's someone who goes "110 percent" every shift.
But even Hornqvist had to admit that he thoroughly enjoys going up against his former team. And it's even better when he finds the back of the net against them.
Hornqvist potted a pair of goals in Pittsburgh's 4-2 win over Nashville on Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena for his first multi-goal game of the year.
The 30-year-old winger, who was traded to Pittsburgh after six seasons with the Preds, now has four goals in his last four games to give him 14 on the season.
"It's always fun to play them and always fun to score," Hornqvist said with a smile. "I got lucky there in front to find two pucks. Some nights you find it, some nights you don't."
On both goals, Hornqvist went straight to the office shared with an old co-worker, Preds goalie Pekka Rinne.
"I thought Horny had a great game," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "He does what he does. He is our north-south guy. He plays hard in the battle areas. He goes hard and goes to the net. He has a nose for the puck and gets in front of the net. He scores those greasy goals when he is in tight. I think that is what he brings to our team."
Hornqvist's first came at even strength, on an offensive zone faceoff. Sidney Crosby won it back to Conor Sheary, who gave it right back. Crosby rimmed it around the end boards to Hornqvist, who went for the wraparound and stuffed it past Rinne.
"I got lucky from behind the net," Hornqvist said. "Just tried to wrap it around and catch him a little bit and it went in."
Hornqvist's second came on the power play, and was the reward for a hard-working shift by the Swedish winger. At first, he tried a behind-the-net goal reminiscent of Crosby, but when that didn't work, he went to - where else? - the front of the net. Hornqvist lifted the stick of his mark and as he fell, took a shot that went off Rinne's glove and in.
Pens goalie Matt Murray sympathizes with Rinne and other opposing goalies having to deal with Hornqvist's constant presence throughout the night.
"Yeah, he's annoying against me in practice," Murray smiled. "We have our good battles in practice and that is what he is good at. He is good at getting under the opponents' skin. He has a really good stick in front of the net. He is not afraid to go there and take a few crosschecks or slashes or whatever it may be. He is a warrior for us all the time."
It helped that he was reunited with Crosby and Conor Sheary for the game, the two players he spent the majority of their Stanley Cup run with.
"I think going back to last playoffs, we played really well together," Hornqvist said. "We know exactly where we are on the ice and I think we showed that tonight. We got some really good looks. The first shift there I almost had a tap in on the back door, we just missed a little bit."