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Kennedy Adds Winning Touch

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins are winning games with a workman like efficiency at the onset of the 2009-10 season. Pittsburgh improved to 5-1-0 after netting a 4-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Monday night and tied a franchise record by winning their first four road games to start the season (2006-07).

Another trend in the early portion of the season has been the clutch performance of third-year pro Tyler Kennedy.

Against Ottawa, Kennedy scored two goals, including the decisive, game-winning goal – his third winner just six games into the season.

“He’s on pace through six games of getting 41-game-winning goals,” head coach Dan Bylsma said with a smile. “I think that would be a record. Hopefully it’s a trend.”

I just try to help out. Everyone has to help pull the rope and that’s what I’m trying to do right now. - Tyler Kennedy
Indeed, it would be a record and it certainly looks like a trend. Kennedy’s winning touch isn’t something unique to this season. Of his 28 career goals, 10 have been game-winners. That game-clinching scoring touch carried over into last year’s Stanley Cup championship run when Kennedy tallied five postseason goals with three being winning scores, including the deciding goal in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final to force a Game 7 (and we all know how that ended).

One could surmise that Kenney is possibly developing into a game-breaker.

“I don’t know about that,” he said modestly.

Still, with over one-third of his goals winning games, there must be some explanation as to why he’s been able to determine so many outcomes. The question is why do the Penguins always seem to hold onto a lead when Kennedy scores?

“Maybe cause I’m trying to pump up the guys to hold on,” Kennedy guessed. “I like getting game-winners. This team really knows how to hold onto a lead which shows we know how to play with a lead.”

Kennedy’s two goals against Ottawa came in very different ways. On his first, Kennedy was in pursuit of a loose puck in front of the Senators goal. Kennedy was able to get some wood on the puck and it deflected off of Ottawa defenseman Erik Karisson’s skate and across the goal line. On his second goal, Kennedy carried the puck down the near side and ripped a slap shot behind Senators netminder Pascal Leclaire.

“The first one just hit off his skate and went in,” Kennedy said. “The second one, I was going for a POP but it ended up going in so I was happy.”

“That first one was a great example of hunting down the puck and getting a good bounce because you’re going to the right areas,” Bylsma said. “And then you see him with speed down the wing for the second one.”

Kennedy is a speedy winger that makes up for any deficiencies in his game with hard work and relentless effort.

“He’s tenacious. He works extremely hard,” Bylsma said. “He’s all over the puck at times. He’s always working. That’s a strength of his game. He’s getting rewarded right now.”

But Kennedy isn’t trying to carry the Penguins. He just wants to do his part to help contribute to the team’s success.

“I just try to help out,” Kennedy said. “Everyone has to help pull the rope and that’s what I’m trying to do right now.”
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