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Adams' Shorthanded Tally Turns Tide for Pens

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins’ penalty kill is ranked No. 2 in the league because they keep their opponents from scoring.

But on Tuesday, Craig Adams was the one who scored when he netted a beauty of a shorthanded goal to put the Penguins up 3-2 against Atlanta with 8:22 remaining in the second period.

His tally swung the momentum back into the Penguins’ favor after the Thrashers dominated the first period, allowing Pittsburgh to come away with a 6-3 victory.

“That was a big point in the game,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We had started to dictate in the second period, but that power play was a chance for them to get right back in it. The way their power play was shooting the puck was pretty dangerous.”

“We really felt like we should have been ahead after the first and that didn’t happen,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said. “We turned over the puck twice for that shorthanded goal to make it 3-2 and the game drastically changed after that.”

The play started when the tenacious Matt Cooke forechecked the puck hard in the Thrashers’ defensive zone and drew three Atlanta players over to do battle.

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Adams had just jumped onto the ice in place of Maxime Talbot, and headed to the aid of his teammate. Cooke sent Adams a perfect pass that he shot across his body and past Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec for the score.

“I jumped on and Cookie obviously had three guys down below the goal line with him, and he made a nice play out front,” Adams said. “I kind of snuck off the bench, I was all alone. It was a good play by him.”

The goal was Adams’ second of the season, with his other coming on Oct 27 against Tampa Bay. That tally also came while the Penguins were shorthanded.

Tuesday’s goal was a nice reward for Adams, who is a crucial element to the Penguins’ No.-2 ranked penalty kill with his fantastic play off the puck. He’s not afraid to sacrifice his body, as he leads all Penguins forwards with 27 blocked shots.

He averages 3:21 of shorthanded ice time per game, and on Tuesday, he led all Penguins with 8:09 of shorthanded time as Atlanta finished the night 1-for-8 on the power play.

“Our power play had many opportunities to get us back in to it, and it didn’t happen,” Ramsay said. “So many times it’s the special teams. They get a power-play goal and because we turned the puck over, they get a shorthanded goal. We just kept giving them back the puck.”

Cooke’s assist on Adam’s goal gave him five shorthanded points (2G-3A) on the season, which is tied for first in the league.

What’s funny is that Cooke earned one of those three helpers the last time Adams scored on Oct. 27. And in that same game, Cooke got one of his shorthanded goals – that Adams assisted on.

“It’s a lot of hard work, but when you get the opportunity to get on the offensive side of it, you want to take advantage of it,” Cooke said. “We had an opportunity (Tuesday) to get on the forecheck and maybe turn over the puck and kill some time, and so I was looking to do that. Fortunately, it went right on Adams’ tape and he made a great shot.”
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