Opening night at CONSOL Energy Center marked a warm welcome for Penguins newcomers Patric Hornqvist and Blake Comeau.
Hornqvist and Comeau recorded their first goals in Penguins sweaters in a 6-4 win over Anaheim on Thursday night.
Hornqvist’s goal came just 5:16 into the game after linemate Sidney Crosby won a faceoff in the Ducks’ zone back to the Swedish winger. Hornqvist shot the puck from a bad angle in traffic and careened off the inside of Pittsburgh-native John Gibson’s arm and into the back of the net, making it the first goal of the season for the team.
The goal brought fans to their feet and set the tone for the rest of the game. Hornqvist added an assist later in the evening to finish with a two-point night, and his big game turned out to be a nice introduction for Pens fans.
According to Hornqvist, he didn’t even see the puck go in until he saw Crosby lift his arms in celebration.
“I didn’t see it go in,” Hornqvist said. “I saw Sid raise his hand up and it was obviously nice to get the first out of the way.”
Overall, Hornqvist had a memorable first home game with his new team.
“It was great,” Hornqvist said. “Obviously the fans got really into it. We got a good start so you can’t ask for a better start. It was obviously a big win against a good team. Everybody’s happy. I felt good out there.”
Head coach Mike Johnston was impressed with what Hornqvist was able to accomplish with both Chris Kunitz and Crosby on the first line.
“I thought Patric Hornqvist added a lot to that line tonight,” Johnston said. “I thought he was good on the wing. I thought he was good around the net.”
Comeau’s goal was especially important, as it broke a 3-3 tie in the second period and stood as the game-winner. It came off a pretty cross-ice pass from defenseman Olli Maatta after Pascal Dupuis carried it into the offensive zone. The cross-ice pass allowed the Comeau to bury the puck backdoor on Gibson for his first goal of the season.