Confidence Driving Jokinen
Home is where the points are. Well, at least for Jussi Jokinen it is. The Penguins forward continues to flourish at home as he scored two goals in Pittsburgh’s 5-1 win over Montreal on Wednesday.
It was Jokinen’s third multi-goal game of the season, all of which have been under CONSOL Energy Center’s roof. He scored twice in a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers on Jan. 3 and notched his second career hat trick against the Carolina Hurricanes in a 5-2 win on Oct. 8.
Of Jokinen’s 15 goals this season, 11 have been on the CONSOL ice. He has been producing consistently over the last month with 13 points in his last 11 games. And the veteran forward – playing on a line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal – said that right now, this is the best he has felt in a while.
“I’m playing with lots of confidence right now,” Jokinen said. “If you have a line like that and everybody knows their roles, then everybody can make plays and shoot the puck. I’m probably feeling my best in a long time.”
While his line with Malkin and Neal had a big night, combining for five points tonight against the Canadiens, Jokinen is pleased with the way the three of them have been playing for some time now.
“The last two, three weeks, we feel our line has been playing really well,” Jokinen said. “Obviously there’s lots of mix and matching during the games, but it seems like every time we go out there together we can create a lot of stuff. It’s kudos to those guys, it’s been very fun playing with those guys and all of us working really hard and creating chances every game.”
The way Malkin set Jokinen up for his first goal reminded him another NHL star he played with back in the day: Mike Modano, the all-time leading goal-scoring and points leader among American-born players and Jokinen’s teammate for his first three professional seasons with the Dallas Stars.
“I think I got a couple of those (passes) from Mike Modano, pretty much same place,” Jokinen said. “Those you always have a little bit too much time, so you have lots of time to think ‘what if I miss this puck?’ and just try to put the puck as nice as you get it, you don’t want to screw it up.”
After the game, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma praised Jokinen for his hockey smarts and his ability to read situations on the ice.
“(Jussi) has been pretty good for us,” Bylsma said. “One thing he’s brought to our team is just the intelligence in the way he plays the game, how smart he is on the ice, his hockey sense and tonight (we saw) great examples of that. He came out big for us in a lot of ways, scoring some goals here for us ... He’s been very big for us in that area.”