CHICAGO – Penguins forward Matt Cooke
returned to Pittsburgh’s lineup in spectacular fashion.
Cooke scored a goal and logged 20:22 minutes of ice time in his return at Chicago. But his 3:04 minutes of shorthanded work proved crucial in helping the Penguins net one point in the NHL standings following a 3-2 shootout setback.
“I approach every game to score, help my team win, kill penalties and be a physical presence,” Cooke said. “(Sunday) that was no different.”
“(Cooke) scored a big goal that changed the game around, got us headed in the right direction,” Craig Adams
said. “That was a big part of us getting a point.”
The Penguins trailed 1-0 as the second period wound down and Chicago had all the momentum. But Pittsburgh’s penalty kill changed all of that with just six minutes to go in the middle frame.
The play started with a brilliant defensive effort from Brooks Orpik
and ended with Cooke burying his team-leading third shorthanded goal of the season.
Orpik broke up a cross-ice pass in the slot by getting his stick in the passing lane. The deflected puck went to Maxime Talbot, who went off on a two-on-one break with Cooke. Talbot waited patiently before flipping the puck to Cooke, who also netted his NHL-leading sixth shorthanded point on the play.
“(Talbot) made an unbelievable pass,” Cooke said. “I just had to put it in the empty net. We go two-on-one a lot on game-day skates so we’re pretty familiar.”
“Up to that point in the game, the game was in Chicago’s favor,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “After that penalty kill and after that goal we were able to play more and get to our game, get to the offensive zone and get some chances.”
The Penguins found themselves shorthanded again late in the game. The game was on the line, with the score tied 2-2 with 1:23 remaining in regulation and Pittsburgh down one man.
But Cooke changed all that.
With a great individual effort, he forced a turnover, retrieved the puck and then negated the Pittsburgh penalty by forcing Marian Hossa to hold him on the play. His efforts assured the game would go to overtime, giving the Penguins a point.
“That was a huge play,” Bylsma said. “Having to come up with a penalty kill that late in the game, they certainly did that. (Cooke) was moving his feet out of the zone when everyone was tired. He draws the penalty and makes it four-on-four, but also gives us a power-play opportunity in overtime.
was certainly a presence for us.”