Phil ‘The Thrill’ Kessel usually draws fans into NHL buildings because of his speed, offensive creativity and lethal wrist shot.
He scoring prowess was on display Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils. With his Pittsburgh Penguins on the power play trailing 1-0, Kessel redirected a pass from Sidney Crosby into the back of the net for his eighth goal of the season.
That wasn’t all of the entertainment that he’d provide for the night, though. After things got a little heated in the middle frame between the 31-year-old veteran and Brett Seney (yeah, we don’t know much about him either), Kessel provided hockey fans with exactly what they wanted.
Phil Kessel… in a fight? 😳
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 14, 2018
Alright, so calling this a fight might be a stretch. However, the violent hug that he and this 22-year-old playing in the sixth game of his NHL career engaged in was quite the improvement on Kessel’s previous scraps.
According to hockeyfights.com, Kessel has three official NHL bouts to his name, one of them coming in a preseason contest. It’s that preseason fight while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs that made him a fisticuffs legend, though.
Taking on the Buffalo Sabres in September of 2013, the chirps began to fly between him and a 6’8, 260-pound monster of a man named John Scott. After Scott threw his gloves into the stratosphere, Kessel chopped at him like the California Redwood that he is and took off.
Removed from that terrifying situation, he squared off with Brian Flynn in the ensuing line brawl.
Since that tomfoolery, Kessel has dropped the mitts with Alex Burrows and got into a spirited tussle with former teammate David Booth during practice while still in Toronto.
However, we haven’t seen anything like this from Kessel since joining the Penguins before the 2015-16 campaign. In fairness, he’s had no reason to get mixed up in anything of the sort.
In his first three seasons in Pittsburgh, Kessel was relied on to put up points and won two Stanley Cups in the process. Anything other than filling the net was outside of his job description.
The Penguins’ slow start to the 2018-19 season might have him frustrated. With a 4-2 loss to the Devils in this one, Pittsburgh is now 7-6-3 and sitting sixth in the Metropolitan division.
On a positive note, Kessel did finish with a Gordie Howe hat-trick as he picked up an assist on Jake Guentzel’s tally early in the third period.
For what it’s worth, that’s gotta at least get a thumbs up from Don Cherry.
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