Phil Kessel’s frustration may have saved the Pittsburgh Penguins Monday night.
The animated forward and former Gophers star grew increasingly frustrated after each shift of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Finals. By the end of the second period, Kessel's outbursts were the story of a 0-0 contest.
Kessel pounded his fists, pointed fingers, yelled at himself and in the direction of linemate Evgeni Malkin. The outbursts provided extra entertainment and likely helped fuel the Pens' late third-period goal. Kessel broke the tie with the eventual game-winner and celebrated with Malkin.
Kessel chose not to expand much on his frustration after the win, only saying “there is a lot of emotion. It’s the third round. And we want to win.”
Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan called the animated discussions “a man’s argument"
“It’s hard to be ultra-competitive in the absence of emotion,” Sullivan told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Emotion is the fabric of our game. That’s part of what makes our game as great as it is.
“Do we have some exchanges on the bench? Sure we do, and we encourage it because I think it helps our game. So just because a guy gets a little bit emotional, I think it helps our overall team game. I think progress is made. We call it a man’s argument. That’s the way it is. I think lines go back and forth and talk to one another. I think it brings juice to the bench.”
"[Kessel is] all in. He wants to win. The rest of our team gets a kick out of him."
Highlights from Kessel’s emotional night:
Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin verbally joust after a shift. Sullivan has to calm Geno down pic.twitter.com/KTuidhd9GO— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 16, 2017