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Staal line at its shutdown best for Penguins

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Staal line at its shutdown best for Penguins
The line of Jordan Staal, Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy wasn’t responsible for any goals in the Penguins’ Game 2 win, but they did the job in limiting the Senators’ top trio.
PITTSBURGH -- Penguins coach Dan Bylsma talked Friday morning about wanting to see more from his line of Jordan Staal, Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy.
 
While that threesome didn't get on the scoresheet in Game 2 of Pittsburgh's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Ottawa Senators, they certainly made their presence felt in the 2-1 series-evening victory.
 
The Pens' trio combined for just three shots but had six hits and, outside of the first shift of the game, dominated Ottawa's top line of Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Peter Regin. Spezza didn't have a shot, while Alfredsson had just two.
 
Bylsma believes the Staal line does its best job when it plays in the offensive zone. Since it usually plays against the other team's top line, the goal of Staal's line is to force the other team's best players to play defense and any plays they do get must come with them dragging the puck through 200 feet of ice. It's the kind of play Bylsma said wasn't there enough in Game 1, but he saw lots of in Game 2.
 
"Jordan Staal's line in particular was a lot better at doing a good job of getting to the offensive zone," he said, "either on the forecheck or with the puck and creating momentum in that direction."
 
"A big part of our role on this team is playing in their end and playing hard on their top guys," Staal told NHL.com. "I thought we did a pretty good job in the first game but not a good enough job. We did a better job tonight. I think it showed."
 
While their primary job isn't scoring goals, they nearly put the Penguins ahead early in the third. Staal beat Spezza on an offensive-zone draw, stepped around him and centered a pass to a cutting Cooke. The puck bounced off Cooke, and it took Ottawa's Anton Volchenkov lunging into the crease, gloving the puck and shoving it behind the net to prevent a goal.
 
"They're eventually going to go in for our line," Kennedy told NHL.com. "Not really getting the bounces now. It comes in time, and I know if we keep working like we are we'll get them."
 
Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com
Quote of the Day

I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on the 2015 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic, the second one of his career after 2011 in Pittsburgh