PITTSBURGH - In his second game back in the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup following a string of healthy scratches, Kasperi Kapanen was rewarded with a two-point game, including the game winning goal.
Kapanen had a rough stretch of games following five points in the first five games, forcing the Penguins to begin healthy scratching him.
During that time, however, Danton Heinen hit a skid of his own and a change needed to be made.
Kapanen and Heinen were swapped and in his second game back, Kapanen made sure to stand out.
Assisting on a second period Brock McGinn goal was just the tip of the iceberg for Kapanen; he tallied his first goal since the season opener and it would hold to be the game winner.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been on the score sheet,” Kapanen said. “It’s a big goal for us in the game, too. I feel like I’ve been playing some bad games… it just hasn’t been going in. It always feels good to score.”
Before his return to the lineup, Kapanen was a healthy scratch in nine of 10 games and in his one appearance, only played seven minutes of ice.
It wasn’t an easy stretch for Kapanen and he said it wasn’t easy watching from afar.
“There isn’t a guy in the league that wants to be healthy [scratched],” Kapanen said. “I always want to compete with the guys and battle out there.”
This being the second straight season of Mike Sullivan pulling the plug on Kapanen means that his spot in the lineup isn’t guaranteed.
While he has his chances, though, Kapanen is poised to earn his way back into a regular position.
“You want to work hard and be ready for getting you get your chance,” Kapanen said. “I’m just trying to do what I can to stay in the lineup.”
So far, through two games, Kapanen has proven he can still cut it in the Penguins lineup.
His opportunity will stick around a little longer thanks to his clutch performance.
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