Alex Galchenyuk got his long-awaited first goal of the season on Monday and will look for that to start a trend when his Pittsburgh Penguins host the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.
Galchenyuk, who has a 30-goal season on his resume, was acquired by the Penguins in a big offseason trade that sent sniper Phil Kessel to Arizona. He missed nine games earlier because of an injury, but that wasn’t as frustrating as not being able to score.
Monday, in his 15th game with Pittsburgh, Galchenyuk finally got that elusive goal in the first period of a 3-2 overtime win against the Calgary Flames.
“Everybody goes through slumps, and last year I had one that was 17 games, but this one was harder because you want to get the first with the new team,” he said.
“We’re obviously thrilled for him to get that first one,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “It’s not a case of a lack of effort with Alex. He’s one of our hardest workers in practice. He puts a lot of pressure on himself to help us win.”
Galchenyuk originally was slated to skate on the second line, with the hope he would develop chemistry with star center Evgeni Malkin, but Pittsburgh had little choice but to split them up as Galchenyuk could not finish any of his many scoring chances.
He’s not likely to be reunited with Malkin soon even if Monday’s goal opens the flood gates, because with captain and star center Sidney Crosby out after sports hernia surgery, Malkin seems entrenched on a new top line that has been effective.
“When you see a guy work hard every day and you pull for him every night, you try and give him as much support as possible,” said Jared McCann, Galchenyuk’s center of late and the first one to celebrate with him Monday.
“We know how much he wanted that first one.”
McCann also scored Monday for Pittsburgh, which has a five-game point streak (3-0-2), with 20 goals in those games.
The Canucks lost 2-1 Monday at Philadelphia, snapping a two-game winning streak, giving them eight losses in 11 games (3-6-2) and leaving them wanting to play at a higher level for longer stretches.
“We need to be consistent with our game, and we need to find a way to win next game,” Vancouver’s Bo Horvat said. “If we want to win in this league, we have to be able to play a full 60 minutes and be consistent in our game.”
The Canucks totaled eight goals in their two recent back-to-back wins but scored just one each in the games before and after the wins.
“It’s going to take time,” Horvat said. “We’re not going to have outbursts all the time, but we still have to find ways to win hockey games.”
Vancouver will be playing its fifth game on a six-game road trip.
“I’m not going to make excuses,” coach Travis Green said. “Every team has road trips. You’ve got to have yourself ready to go. … When our team is off a little bit, it’s tough to score.”
The game features a matchup of brothers Brandon Tanev, a winger for Pittsburgh, and Chris Tanev, a defenseman for the Canucks.
–Field Level Media