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Hornqvist Stays Hot

by CJ Harvey / Pittsburgh Penguins

Patric Hornqvist has been rolling.

The winger picked up his 40th point of the season in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win over the New York Rangers on Thursday after scoring for the third consecutive game.

He’s tallied 10 points in his last eight appearances (6G-4A), including his first career hat trick against Arizona on Feb. 29.

Before the turn of the new year, Hornqvist had 15 points and only found the back of the net on seven occasions. Now, the 29-year-old winger is playing at one of the highest levels in his career.

What’s changed?

“Our mindset,” Hornqvist said. “We feel good about ourselves. We’ve been playing the right way and when we do that we’re hard to beat…In the start of the season, I didn't have the puck like I do now. Everything (offensively) feels like it’s going through or hitting off me.

“Coach has done a great job getting us to play a little faster and harder on the puck. We’ve been getting on the right side of people and not letting life be easy for our opponents. That’s been the difference.”

It’s no question Hornqvist has been a benefactor in the Pens’ recent success at home. The team has won four of their last five at CONSOL Energy Center and are looking for another against Calgary on Saturday.

Most of his flushes have been from the doorstep, which has been Pittsburgh’s game plan all season.

“It’s always about getting pucks to the net,” Sidney Crosby said after their win against the Rangers. “It’s a common theme, put it at the net. It’s not too pretty, but that’s how you score this time of year.”

“Patric is having quite a run here,” said Chris Kunitz, who's spent a lot of time on the other side of the ice from Hornqvist this season. “When you look back at his hat trick: he scored one on the crease, one at the net and one upfront on the power play. When you’re feeling good, everyone can rise off your emotion. We need to go out there and keep getting the puck to the guy with the hot stick.”

Right now, Hornqvist has been the man juggling fire, becoming a consistent net presence that’s connecting the puck with the goal at a high rate.

Going forward, Hornqvist said he needs to continue gathering rebounds and creating offensive opportunities if he wants to keep riding his scoring streak.

“If you spend enough time in front of the net, eventually those chances are going to go in,” Hornqvist said. “Obviously when you have more chances, it goes in a little easier.”

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