Zucker looks to stay hot as Penguins host Red Wings

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Jason Zucker will play his third game for Pittsburgh on Sunday. His second game since joining the team has everyone in the franchise excited about the future.

Zucker scored two goals in a 4-1 victory over Montreal on Friday.

The 28-year-old forward was acquired from the Minnesota Wild earlier in the week in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk, Calen Addison and a conditional 2020 first-round pick. He’ll get a chance to show off his offensive skills against the league’s worst team, the Detroit Red Wings, in an afternoon home game on Sunday.

“(Friday), he was flying,” center Sidney Crosby said to NHL.com. “He created a lot and got a couple big goals for us. He looked comfortable out there.”

Zucker had spent his entire career with the Wild. He had 14 goals and 29 points in 45 games with them this season. His best season was the 2017-18 campaign, when he racked up 33 goals and 64 points while appearing in all 82 games.

“I just think Jason is going to get more comfortable with every day that he’s here,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “You can see his ability to finish. He had two real good goals (Friday). We’re excited about having him. He’s only going to get better. I just think familiarity is going to help him.”

Zucker made his first appearance for the Penguins in a 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay, one day after he was dealt. He had a little more time to settle in for his second outing with the club.

“It’s great to have that practice (Thursday),” he said to NHL.com. “Trying to learn the system a little bit more and just try to learn these guys and the way they play hockey. It’ll be a learning curve still, but I’m excited about how the game went (Friday).”

Zucker scored a goal in Minnesota’s 4-2 win over Detroit on Jan. 22. His multi-goal outing for Pittsburgh was his first since he produced a hat trick against Tampa Bay last March.

Pittsburgh has won 10 of its last 14 games, including a 2-1 overtime triumph at Detroit on Jan. 17. Crosby scored the game-winner on a power play.

Pittsburgh also won the first meeting 5-3 on Dec. 7. Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel each had a goal and two assists that night.

The Red Wings have lost three straight and 13 of their last 15 games. They were defeated by Boston 4-1 on Saturday afternoon and need a victory on Sunday to salvage the finale of a four-game road trip.

Darren Helm scored a short-handed goal in the first period on Saturday but otherwise the Wings were dominated by the Bruins.

Detroit was outshot 41-26 and went 0-for-3 on the power play. Boston scored three of its four goals in the second period.

“Our power play really let us down again and we shot ourselves in the foot with the third goal there,” coach Jeff Blashill said in his postgame TV interview. “We got the puck in the O zone and 20 seconds later, it’s in our net, so we’ve got to make sure we do a better job of that.”

The second period has been a major problem for the Wings all season, forcing them to consistently play from behind.

“Generally, it’s been not getting out of our zone, turning pucks over too much and then not getting your people on and off the ice,” Blashill said of the second-period issues.

–Field Level Media

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