Everything you need to know from the Penguins' 3-1 triumph over Dallas on Friday:
NEAL WORLD: PITTSBURGHJames Neal
is on fire. Another game. Another two goals.
Neal met the team that traded him to Pittsburgh nine months ago and led the Penguins to a 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars by scoring twice on Friday.
Neal is currently on a five-game point streak (3G-4A) and is second in the league with 11 goals.
“It’s always nice to get (a good performance) against your former team,” Neal said. “The main thing is us playing a top team and beating them. They came in here to play us hard and we came back and played a great game ourselves.”Click here to read more on Neal's big night
.- Kaitlin Zurawsky
HOME COOKE-IN’Matt Cooke
has been quietly doing it all for the Penguins so far this season with his work on the penalty kill, blocking shots and putting up points. And on Friday, he found another way to contribute by converting his first-ever penalty shot attempt.
Cooke was awarded the opportunity after being dragged down on a breakaway attempt by Trevor Daley.
"Not many goalies have seen me other than our two because that was my first one ever," Cooke said. "I was just fortunate that we get to practice it because if not, I probably would have been really nervous out there standing at the blue line."
Cooke was referring to the way the Penguins practice shootouts at the end of nearly every practice under head coach Dan Bylsma.
While the players incorporate some playful aspects into them – crowning a monthly ‘Mustache Boy’ and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury
with his funny antics – the Penguins take the drill very seriously.
“Thankfully, we practice (the shootout) a lot and I felt remotely comfortable out there,” Cooke explained. “I picked a move from the get-go and I knew that’s what I was going to do. I stuck with it and was fortunate enough it went in.”
On the shot, Cooke started behind his own blue line to gain momentum. He circled out wide once he hit the other blue line before cutting in and lifting a forehand shot stick side past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen.
“I just wanted to be out there as long as I can,” Cooke joked of his spread-out approach to the goal. “No, you know what, like I said, we practice it. If I come straight in on him, it’s tough to make a move and still be far enough away from him for the second move.
“Through practicing in our shootouts after practices, I’ve been able to score a few times with that one.”
NO GOAL(S)? NO PROBLEM
Penguins forward Chris Kunitz
seemingly scored on two separate occasions on Friday night – but both apparent goals were disallowed.
Those occurrences could have easily been momentum swingers for the Stars, but in impressive displays of perseverance, the Penguins would respond both times with goals that actually counted.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better response from a team and the guys, both in preparing themselves to go back out when it was a no-goal call and then going out and executing with the rest of the power play,” Bylsma said.
“That’s pretty impressive to get back out there and not put your head down, get ready to execute and take advantage of what was left. They were both very big goals for us.”
The first no-goal call came with 2:28 left in the second with Jamie Benn in the box for slashing. Defenseman Kris Letang
put a pretty pass right in Evgeni Malkin
’s wheelhouse, who fired a one-timer to the net that Kunitz deflected into the cage. Unfortunately, it was a hi-stick and the refs immediately deemed it no goal.
Luckily, Neal would respond 24 seconds later with a one-timer from the circle.
The second no-goal call would come with Krystofer Barch serving a boarding minor. Kunitz appeared to score a great goal with a tip atop the crease, but the refs ruled he interfered with Lehtonen and waved it off.
It would again be Neal to respond, this time 23 seconds later, as his shot re-directed off the stick of Stars defenseman Mark Fistric and into a wide-open net.
“If it’s not a goal, stay focused,” Kunitz said of what the team discussed while waiting for the rulings on each call. “We’ve got to go back out and do our job. (The wait) gave us a chance to break, rest a little and then go out and do the right things.
“It’s pretty exciting being out there if we can go out and score two goals, get both disallowed and go right back and score two.”
VETERANS DAY CELEBRATION
The Penguins celebrated Veterans Day by hosting 12 veterans at the team’s morning skate – where select members of the team presented representatives of the Wounded Warrior Project, Operation Troop Appreciation and the Veterans’ Administration with an individualized Penguins jersey.
Penguins players then wore special camouflage jerseys to honor the veterans and current troops during the pre-game warmup. The players will autograph the jerseys and they will be auctioned on www.nhl.com, with proceeds benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project and Operation Troop Appreciation.
For the full list of Veterans Day activities, click here
Author: Michelle Crechiolo