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Aftermath: Penguins 3, Ducks 1

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Photos | Highlights | Therrien | Cooke | Gill | Crash The Net | Recap (AP)
The Penguins put together a gutsy performance with nine regular players out of the lineup, including captain Sidney Crosby, to grind out a 3-1 victory. Pittsburgh reinforced its trapping system to shut down the Ducks' offense and played a defensive-oriented, disciplined game. Pittsburgh did its best impersonation of New Jersey as they played a somewhat boring but highly affective style.

Matt Cooke, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury stepped up to lead the way for the Penguins. Nearly half of the lineup was comprised of players from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton filling in for the injury-plagued Penguins. To make matters worse, defenseman Brooks Orpik was lost to an undisclosed injury in the first period.

However, Pittsburgh battled through the adversity to come out with two points.
(AP) - Matt Cooke scored twice in a 43-second span and the Sidney Crosby-less Pittsburgh Penguins handed the Anaheim Ducks their fourth loss in five games, 3-1 on Friday night.

Hal Gill also scored, and Evgeni Malkin had two assists for the Penguins, who had lost eight of their previous 10 and were without Crosby for the first time this season. Crosby was injured - apparently his left knee - late in a 6-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.

Ryan Getzlaf had the lone goal for Anaheim, which was playing the first of five consecutive games on the road, where it has won only two of its past 10.

Playing without nine regulars due to injury for most of the game - three players besides Crosby were knocked out of the game against Washington, and defenseman Brooks Orpik left during the second period Friday due to an undisclosed ailment - Pittsburgh dressed five players who had played in 11 NHL games or fewer this season before Friday.

Matt Cooke gets physical with Chris Pronger (photo by Getty)
What Worked: Band of Brothers
Missing nine regulars from the lineup, the Penguins stuck together and survived with a 3-1 victory over the Ducks. Nearly half the team comprised of players called up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. With their backs against the proverbial “wall” and their captain sidelined, Pittsburgh put together a solid effort - particularly in the defensive zone - and was rewarded with two points.

What Didn't Work: Penalties
The Penguins were clinging to a 2-1 lead in the third period and the Ducks were pressing to get the tying goal. The Penguins nearly gave the game away with two penalties in the final frame. Pittsburgh played with fire. But thanks to two tremendous penalty kills, the Penguins escaped unscathed. 
Matt Cooke swears that he hasn’t changed his game since being elevated to the top line. One thing that has changed is his production. Since the “promotion,” Cooke has scored three goals and added an assist for four points in five games. He has three goals in his past three games, including his first two-goal performance for the Penguins against Anaheim. Cooke had a number of opportunities to net his first career hat trick, including a chance on an empty net, but it wasn’t meant to be. He had four shots and six hits in the game while compiling a plus-2 rating.
Pittsburgh struck first with a goal in the final minute of the first period. Defenseman Hal Gill dished the puck along the boards and behind the Ducks net. Evgeni Malkin stopped the puck but couldn’t control it. Matt Cooke collected it and made a sweeping shot as he skated out from behind the goal. The shot slid off the far post and into the net behind Jean-Sebastian Giguere. Pittsburgh 1, Anaheim 0.

Cooke struck again, this time only 20 seconds into the second period. Ryan Whitney took a shot on goal from the point. Cooke tried to re-directed the puck in the high slot but the puck instead dropped in front of him. With Giguere trapped out of position, Cooke sent a backhander into the cage. Pittsburgh 2, Anaheim 0.

The Ducks strike with a power-play score in the second frame. Scott Niedermayer sprung Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf for a two-on-one chance. Ryan, the second pick in the 2005 draft behind Sidney Crosby, made a flip pass across and Getzlaf buried the puck for his 17th score of the season. Pittsburgh 2, Anaheim 1.

The always dangerous Hal Gill scored his first goal of the season in the third period to extend the Penguins’ lead. Jordan Staal won a faceoff in the Anaheim zone and dropped the puck to Gill at the blue line. Gill unleashed a slap shot through a screen that beat Giguere. Pittsburgh 3, Anaheim 1.
The Penguins injury list continues to grow. Missing from the game against the Ducks are forward Sidney Crosby and defensemen Kris Letang and Rob Scuderi. The IR group includes forwards Pascal Dupuis, Ruslan Fedotenko, Maxime Talbot and Mike Zigomanis and defenseman Sergei Gonchar. Blueliner Brooks Orpik left the game and did not return. Someone joked in the locker room before the game that the Penguins should have entered the ice to the theme music from M*A*S*H. Sounds pretty appropriate.

The early line combinations for the Pittsburgh/Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were: Matt Cooke-Evgeni Malkin-Petr Sykora; Tyler Kennedy-Jordan Staal-Miroslav Satan; Chris Minard-Dustin Jeffrey-Janne Pesonen; Eric Godard-Bill Thomas-Paul Bissonnette.

Thomas saw action on Pittsburgh’s penalty-kill unit in the third period. He managed to poke the puck free from a Duck and had a semi-breakaway. Jean-Sebastian Giguere made the save but Thomas, a Pittsburgh native, nearly brought the house down.

After the final horn a scuffle broke out and Malkin found himself at the bottom of a pile. It was hard to see what started the skirmish but Malkin and Anaheim’s Corey Perry went after each other. Perry tackled the Russian center and pinned him on the ice. Eventually the linesmen were able to separate the players.
> Pittsburgh improved to 22-20-4 on the year, with a 10-9-2 mark at Mellon Arena. Pittsburgh has won two of its past three games.

> Pittsburgh opened the scoring with 20 seconds left in the first period on Matt Cooke’s sixth score of the season. Cooke added his seventh of the season 23 seconds into the second period. Ryan Getzlaf banged home his 17th goal of the year with a power-play score at 14:38 of the second period. Hal Gill scored his first goal of the season at 15:05 to increase the Pittsburgh lead, 3-1.

> Evgeni Malkin tallied two assists against the Ducks to extend his NHL lead in points to 69 (18G-51A). Malkin’s 51 assists are a league best.

> Sidney Crosby did not play against Anaheim. He is still second in the league in scoring with 59 points (17G-42A) and his 42 assists are second most in the league behind teammate Malkin’s 51.

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 21 saves in the winning effort.

> Matt Cooke tallied his first two-goal game as a Penguin. He’s recorded seven two-goal games in his career (Last time: 1/5/07 vs. EDM). Cooke has scored three goals in his last three games.

> Hal Gill recorded two points against the Ducks, including his first goal of the season. The last time he notched two points in a game was March 16, 2008, against Philadelphia (1G-1A).

> Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Jeff Reed attended the game.

> Mellon Arena sold out for the 88th straight game with a standing room only attendance of 17,005.
1. Matt Cooke, PIT
2. Evgeni Malkin, PIT
3. Hal Gill, PIT
“This is a young resilient group. We haven't accepted
losing and every guy in this room hates it.”
- Matt Cooke


Author: Sam Kasan

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