PITTSBURGH (AP) — Chris Kunitz planted himself in the crease, bent over, put his stick on the ground and waited.
When the pass came from teammate James Neal moments later, Kunitz — a statue in the middle of chaos — casually tapped it into the wide open net.
With an almost sheepish grin the nine-year veteran lifted his stick in celebration, as if to say, "Again? For real?"
Such is life these days for one of the NHL's hottest players, one who has spent most of his nine-year career living comfortably in the shadow of his high-profile teammates only to find himself maybe becoming one himself.
At the moment, it also includes a blue collar guy who has developed a knack for lighting the red lamp.
Heading into Tuesday night's showdown with the Boston Bruins, Kunitz is third in the league in scoring. His 36 points on 17 goals and 19 assists puts him well ahead of guys whose resumes are littered with All-Star appearances and whose paychecks come with a few more zeros.
The 31-year-old's plus/minus ratio of plus-21 is the highest in the league and he's turning an eye-popping 29 percent of his shots into goals. Kunitz, as is his way, insists he's not doing anything differently.