Penguin Notebook: Kasperi Kapanen, Mike Sullivan ‘on the same page’

The Penguins’ 3-2 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday at the PPG Paints Arena was an exciting affair.

It required a comeback in the third phase and was a perfect way to mark a banner night for Captain Sidney Crosby’s 1,000th career game of the regular season.

But Crosby’s right winger was largely not involved. At least in the third period.

Kasperi Kapanen was pushed into the fourth row in the first period and played sparingly in the third period.

“Frugal” could be a non-profit method to mark the 19-second Ice Age that Kapanen recorded on his last shift recently.

After the game, coach Mike Sullivan was close in explaining why Kapanen was downgraded and essentially benched.

“I was trying to find people who made it tonight, who were competitive and would give us the best chance of winning,” Sullivan said via videoconference. “And some nights these things will happen. I didn’t think (Kapanen) would play his game tonight. And so I tried to find people who would give us the chance to win. ”

Less than 48 hours later, Kapanen was back on top with Crosby and Jake Guentzel on the left wing during practice at Cranberry.

Sullivan was asked what conversations he had had with Kapanen since Saturday and what more he would like to see from the veteran winger.

The coach largely declined to answer the question but was optimistic that Kapanen went beyond what led to his limited stake on Saturday.

“(Kapanen) and I had a conversation and I would rather stay between (Kapanen) and myself,” Sullivan said. “But I think we are very much in agreement on the expectations and we will move forward from there. But he and I had a conversation (Monday). ”

Kapanen has seven points (two goals, five assists) in 13 games this season, but one assist in his last five games.

Riikola comes back closer

Defender Juuso Riikola had full contact in practice. It was the first time he has done this since an unknown injury on January 19th. The illness has sidelined Riikola for the last 12 games, limiting him to two games and no points this season.

On Monday he ran a fourth pairing with longtime partner Chad Ruhwedel.

Sullivan said that Riikola’s participation in Monday’s practice allowed him to get one step closer to eligibility.

In addition, injured strikers Jared McCann, Evan Rodrigues and Brian Dumoulin skated that morning before the taxi commission took the ice.

Sullivan said McCann will travel with the team to Washington and Long Island for his upcoming four-game road trip. Rodrigues and Dumoulin stay in western Pennsylvania and skate with Skills Trainer Ty Hennes.

McCann is in an injured reserve. Dumoulin, Riikola and Rodrigues are in a long-term injured reserve.

The rivalry continues

The penguins will open their road trip with two consecutive games against the capital cities from Tuesday.

Given the unique composition of the season due to the pandemic, the penguins have already played four times against the capital cities in just over five weeks, all at home.

“It will be our first time in Washington,” said defender Marcus Pettersson. “I think it will be fun. We know each other well now. … Even though the rivalry was already well pumped up, I think that every game this season, when there are so many games, it is driving it up. ”

Seth Rorabaugh is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or on Twitter.

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