Jake Guentzel scored the first goal of his career on the first shot of his first shift in the NHL, and his family absolutely lost it in the stands in celebration.
Through 16 games in the AHL, Jake Guentzel was having about the best start to his professional career that he could ask for. He had scored seven goals and 17 points to start off his rookie campaign with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and when the big club lost Chris Kunitz to injury, Guentzel got his first call up to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
And if Guentzel’s play throughout the early part of his freshman AHL season seemed at all remarkable then the start to his NHL career was nothing short of a dream.
Guentzel hit the ice for the first time 35 seconds into the opening frame, skating on a line with Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin, and less than 30 seconds after stepping onto NHL ice for the first time in his career, Guentzel was celebrating his first career goal.
Skating down the wing, Kessel hit Guentzel with a pass, who then used the space he had to drive the outside until he was about to be closed off and fired a shot low and hard on Rangers goaltender Antti Raanta. The puck eluded the New York netminder and found the back of the net, with Guentzel’s family going wild in celebration. Before the first period was up, Guentzel managed his second career goal, and his family continued to joyously celebrate:
That was one heck of a first period from the rookie.
Guentzel, drafted 77th overall by the Penguins in 2013, is only months removed from finishing up his time at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where he spent three seasons. Over the course of his time there, he netted 40 goals and 119 points in 108 games, with his best season coming in 2015-16 with 19 goals and 46 points in 35 games.
Though this is technically his rookie season, Guentzel actually made his debut for the AHL’s Penguins at the tail end of the 2015-16 campaign. In 11 games, he scored two goals and six points, then followed that up with another five goals and 14 points in 10 post-season outings. That was a sign of what was to come, clearly.
Guentzel’s two first period goals would put the Penguins ahead 2-0 heading into intermission, but he and the Penguins wouldn’t also get to celebrate a win on his first night out. Over the course of the second and third periods, the Rangers scored five unanswered goals to skate to a 5-2 victory.
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