Almost everything that could go right has gone as such for the Penguins over the past two games, but there was a moment late in Game 3’s victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning that had some in Pittsburgh worrying about the health of Patric Hornqvist.
With the Penguins in their defensive zone with little more than seven minutes left in the third period, Hornqvist went to close off a shooting lane when the puck came back to Lightning winger Alex Killorn. Hornqvist spread out to block the shot and managed to get his left hand in front of Killorn’s attempt.
However, upon the puck striking Hornqvist, he almost immediately dropped his stick to the ice, winced in pain and skated to the Pittsburgh bench. Shortly thereafter, he headed to the dressing room:
Hornqvist didn’t return to Game 3 following the shot block, and post-game Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said he wasn’t quite sure the status of the Pittsburgh winger. Thursday, Sullivan said Hornqvist was "making progress" and added that he didn't "envision it being an issue." Not an issue, indeed. Ahead of Game 4, Sullivan confirmed that Hornqvist would indeed be in the lineup.
Hornqvist has only had moderate playoff success before this campaign, but he has been good for the Penguins throughout the first two rounds and into the Eastern Conference final. That he’ll be able to get back into the lineup for Game 4 is good news for Pittsburgh.
Through 14 games this post-season, Hornqvist has six goals and nine points and is averaging more than 17 minutes per game. Against the Lightning, Sullivan has leaned even harder on Hornqvist, though, skating him close to 20 minutes per night in Games 1 and 2, and Hornqvist was on pace to get near that ice time again in Game 3 before being forced from the game. During the regular season, Hornqvist managed 22 goals and 51 points in 82 games.