Kessel netted a power-play goal for the second straight game Monday against the Avalanche.
He's becoming the de facto go-to shooter on Pittsburgh's power play, especially with Sidney Crosby sidelined. Kessel completed an inconsistent regular season in his first year with Pittsburgh last year before turning it on in the postseason. It's conceivable that the big year so many predicted for the winger in the summer of 2015 comes true in 2016-17 -- he's off to a great start with two goals and a game-deciding shootout score in three games.
Kessel registered a game-winning, power-play goal Saturday against the Ducks.
The winger, who sat out Friday's practice with a maintenance day, played nearly 17 minutes (16:58) Saturday. Despite the Pens mixing and matching its top nine forwards, the "HBK" line (which includes Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Kessel) remains intact. Only Kris Letang (3:12) saw more power-play ice time than Kessel (3:06).
Kessel sat out Friday's practice with a maintenance day, DK Pittsburgh Sports reports.
The winger scored the game-deciding shootout goal in Thursday's season opener but missed practice Wednesday and Friday. Whatever injury Kessel is nursing appears to be minor, though it bears monitoring. He underwent hand surgery in the offseason.
The winger got off a quick wrister by the top of the left circle, showing little sign of any problems. Pittsburgh hasn't committed to a reunion of the HBK line, but Kessel figures to see plenty of time with Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino throughout the season.
Kessel underwent hand surgery during the offseason for an injury sustained in the opening round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Throughout the recovery process, the winger maintained that he intended be ready for the start of the 2016-17 season; indeed, he appears to be tracking in that direction. The 29-year-old thrived after the Pens made a coaching change to Mike Sullivan, and Kessel could be in for huge numbers with a full season of the new staff's demanding, fast-paced tempo.