Rookie forward Tanner Pearson has set career highs in ice time in three of his last four games, a stretch that has contained fine performances against Montreal, Calgary and Phoenix.
He scored his second career goal in Monday’s loss to the Coyotes, a first period snipe during a two-on-two rush as part of 14:15 of ice time.
“I don’t really know if the first one (at the New York Islanders on November 14) went in or not, and there was no real full call on if it crossed the line or not,” he said, referencing the game-winner in his NHL debut. “This one actually hit the back of the net which was nice, and to get it at home was pretty cool, too.”
The goal, as Darryl Sutter describes it, is for Pearson to hit the level of consistency that justifies his continued minutes. He doesn’t see Pearson as an individual left wing, but as a consortium of position-linked players that need to provide quality minutes.
“You play here, you can’t take shifts off,” Sutter said. “Look at the other night. Kinger gets hit in the face, so we have to shorten the bench in a hurry on the left side, and we get scored on. You have to be consistent. You need four lines, you need four left wingers, you need four centermen, you need four right wingers to be consistent every shift. Whether it’s Dustin Brown or Tanner Pearson, it doesn’t matter.”
In the two recent games in which Brown was scratched due to a minor lower-body injury, Pearson skated opposite Tyler Toffoli on a line centered by Jarret Stoll.
“Especially with Brownie being out, it kind of gives me a bit of an opportunity,” Pearson said. “But I think as each game has gone on the confidence has gone up. I think that’s such a big thing and then getting chemistry with your linemates. Playing with Stolly is pretty easy and then playing with Toff is kind of natural by now. I’ve had a lot of help along the way, but hopefully we can keep on going up.”
That a pair of rookies flank a centerman with a quality effort is an appropriate fit, according to Sutter.
“Jarret’s work ethic clearly inspires guys that he plays with. If you don’t work your tail off and you play with Stolly, it stands out,” he said. “Again, it doesn’t matter who plays with him. That is always what he pulls in. His number one is ‘work.’”
Tanner Pearson, on his goal against Phoenix:
I think Toff tried to pass it to Stolly and it was a bit ahead of him into the defenseman’s skates and Stolly just kind of tied him up. It was just sitting there and so it was kind of off to the races and I knew I had someone coming on me quickly. So I knew I had to get the shot off fast and I just decided to go upstairs with it.
Pearson, on scoring at Staples Center:
You’re on the road and you kind of quiet the building down and you don’t realize how loud Staples Center can get until you score your goal and experience it.
Pearson, on Jarret Stoll’s leadership:
Yeah, especially how Toff and I being the rookies on the team and he’s been there. He’s trying to do his best to let us know where to be in certain spots and keep us in the big game and keep us focused. He’s done a good job of that.
Pearson, on playing with Stoll:
He’s a really good two-way center. He works really, really hard and he’s going to be at the right spots at the right time. He’s going to make the game easier for us, which is nice.
Pearson, on Stoll being a role model for younger players:
I think it shows from when I was here in the summer time and he’s in the gym every day and doing his thing, and showing what being an NHL player is all about. He’s definitely a good role model and hopefully I can keep up to him.