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Get Shorty

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Penguins entered a shorthanded situation down one goal to the Philadelphia Flyers – and came out of it with a one-goal lead.

Jordan Staal scored just 16 seconds into a penalty late in the second period to even the score at 2-2, while Matt Cooke scored on the 3-on-5 disadvantage after Brooks Orpik joined Pascal Dupuis in the box to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead.

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The Penguins would go on to earn a 6-4 victory and a huge two points against their division and cross-state rival, much to the chagrin of the 19,958 at Wells Fargo Center.

“We haven’t scored a lot of goals shorthanded lately,” Cooke said. “Our focus is to kill them first, but obviously when given the opportunity or you get a chance to go on the offense, we want to do that.”

Cooke’s goal, one of two in the game, came with one second left on Dupuis’ penalty, marking the first time Pittsburgh had scored on a 3-on-5 disadvantage since Mario Lemieux did it on Feb. 13, 1988 in Los Angeles.

It also marked the first time the Penguins had scored twice on the same penalty kill since Cooke and Craig Adams did it on Oct. 27, 2010 at Tampa Bay.

“Two huge shorthanded goals from Jordan and Matt Cooke there,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “Set us up (for the win).”

Staal’s goal came when Adams gained the zone and waited for his teammate to join him before sending him a perfect drop pass. Staal ripped a shot through traffic to beat Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov far side for the score.

“’Addsy’ did a great job of letting ‘Staalsy’ join on a 2-on-2 and push the D back,” Cooke said. “Staalsy shot through a screen, which is a great shot. I don’t think the goalie saw it.”

Cooke’s tally came when he won a footrace to the puck with Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who had a head start on the Penguins winger. Since both players were near the end of their shifts, it was a matter of who wanted it more – and it was Cooke.

“The puck took a fortunate bounce, and on the 5-on-3, they only have one guy back,” Cooke said. “Timonen had been out there for a while, so I figured I could try it. Fortunately, it went in because I was pretty tired at the end of it.”

The Flyers entered the game with one of the NHL’s best power plays, so needless to say, Dupuis felt horrible when he got called for tripping Flyers forward Danny Briere.

“We know they have a good power play,” Dupuis said. “We know they shoot well. (Claude) Giroux is a great playmaker. It doesn’t feel great to be in the box when your team is on the PK. ‘Brooksy’ takes another one right after and we’re down 5-on-3.”

But his teammates produced a Herculean effort that resulted in a pair of goals, and Dupuis couldn’t say enough about the efforts of Pittsburgh’s penalty killers – Cooke, Staal, Adams and Zbynek Michalek.

“Feels a little better when Jordan goes and scores, then Matt makes an unbelievable play to outmuscle a guy and takes it in and scores,” Dupuis said. “Usually, it’s a bad feeling to be in there, but these two big goals for us was huge.

“It’s all about effort when you’re penalty killing. It’s all about putting your body on the line, about blocking shots and about dedication to winning games. These guys did it. These guys won races and got two big goals.”

But even though the Penguins scored twice on his penalty, don’t think for a second you’ll see Dupuis go back to the box if he can help it.

“I still do feel bad about it and still don’t want to take penalties,” he said with a smile, adding, “You get two shorties on it, it makes it a little sweeter.”
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