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Staal effective in his first game of season

Saturday, 01.01.2011 / 1:00 AM

By Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer / 2011 Winter Classic Blog

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2011 Winter Classic Blog
Staal effective in his first game of season
Jordan Staal hadn't played a competitive hockey game in nearly seven months, but you couldn't tell during his 2010-11 season debut Saturday night.

The 22-year-old had two golden scoring chances early in the first period and didn't look out of place at all during the Penguins' 3-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Saturday night. He had two shots, an even rating, and won 11 of 18 faceoffs after spending the past two months on IR with a broken hand.

"Great trade by (Genaral Manager) Ray Shero getting that guy," Pens coach Dan Bylsma cracked. "I didn't know what to expect from Jordan tonight and what level he'd be at, but his first period was phenomenal, given the circumstances and the fact that he hasn't played.

"I think he had two or three scoring chances, was outstanding on the penalty kill. And so I thought he had an exceptional game. As the game wore on, maybe didn't have the same jump as he had there in the first period with the adrenalin, but he was a factor. He was good in the faceoff and penalty kill, and his skating was great, got to the net a few times. He was good defensively down low. The times he got the (Alex) Ovechkin/(Nicklas) Backstrom and (Mike) Knuble line he was a force down there as well."

Staal not only missed two months because of his hand injury, but he suffered that setback after he spent two months recovering from an infection following surgery on his foot during the offseason. H e admitted to feeling a little sore toward the end of the contest.

"The hold hip flexors were getting a little tight," Staal said of playing his first game back with slight rainfall. "The ice was a little soft, but it sitll turned out alright. Both teams were playing on the same ice. It was still a memorable experience."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

Quote of the Day

What we expected is what we got. Very mature young individual that's focused. He is on the right track. He's not only a great hockey individual, but he's a good person off the ice. He seemed to take a leadership role with this group right off the hop and ran away with it, and was vocal, was respectful, was everything it takes to be a Panther. His future looks bright.

— Florida Panthers director of player development Brian Skrudland on defenseman Aaron Ekblad's performance at development camp