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Kahun has found his game

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

After the Penguins acquired Dominik Kahun from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Olli Maatta back in June, Mike Sullivan gave him a call.

"He talked about how they want to play and Pittsburgh's style is a fast and skilled game," Kahun said back in June. "I think that would be a good fit for me. He told me all the guys in Pittsburgh know what I can do. I think I can be a good fit in that game, so I'm really excited."

It ended up taking a while for Kahun to get comfortable in his new environment, both on and off the ice. But the 24-year-old forward is starting to hit his stride and do exactly what the Penguins knew he was capable of when they first traded for him.

"It's never easy to come to a new team," Sullivan said. "The coaching staff goes through a bit of an adjustment process to try and figure out how to best utilize the player, and then the player goes through an adjustment process as well. It takes time. 

"But I think we're starting to see the benefits and the attributes that Dom has and his capability to play the type of game that we're trying to play."

And not only was Kahun getting used to his new surroundings - he is still getting used to the league itself, as this marks just his second NHL season. He posted 13 goals and 37 points while playing in all 82 games for Chicago in 2018-19, his rookie campaign. While he feels better in certain situations compared to last year, he's still learning what it takes to be a successful professional.

"The start (here) was for sure like another rookie season, I would say," Kahun said. "Everything was new. It felt the same as it did with Chicago last year."

After going goalless in his first 11 appearances (and being a healthy scratch on Nov. 2 versus Edmonton), Kahun now has five goals in his last eight games. 

The speedy, skilled and hard-working forward recorded the second three-point performance over that span in Saturday's 6-1 win over Toronto, scoring twice and adding an assist to earn the game's No. 1 star.

"The start was a little tough for me to get used to all the things," Kahun said. "I didn't have a good preseason, I would say. Now I've found my game and I feel positive."

As Sullivan mentioned, the versatile Kahun has been shuffled around the lineup a decent amount. And with the latest injury to Nick Bjugstad, Kahun was moved onto the left wing of a line with Jared McCann and Brandon Tanev on Saturday. Fortunately, the three of them clicked almost instantly.

"(Sullivan) told us before the game it could work out for sure," Kahun said. "We just tried to play hard. The first period wasn't our best because we just got used to each other, but then we just played our game with speed and making plays off the rush. It was very good."

That line epitomizes how the Penguins want to play. All three players have plenty of speed, and Tanev described their game as being fast and north-south. They want to get on pucks, take them to the net and make things difficult for their opponent. 

And ultimately, when they have the opportunities, they want to put them in the net - which is exactly what Kahun did on Saturday.

"He's got a knack for the net," Tanev said. "He's a smart player. He was a great player last year and we're seeing that early on this season."

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