At the beginning of every practice forward Tyler Kennedy
dumps a bucket of pucks in the circle. He doesn’t move until each one has been launched into the back of the net.
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Catch up on the stories from the Penguins 2012 playoffs.
In Game 5 of the Penguins’ opening round series vs. the Philadelphia Flyers, his practice paid off. Kennedy scored the game-winning goal in Pittsburgh’s 3-2 victory at CONSOL Energy Center.
Halfway through the second period Kennedy earned his second point (1G, 1A) of the night when he launched the puck past Flyers’ goalie Ilya Bryzgalov into the corner of the net.
“’Staalsy’ (Jordan Staal
) got in and we won a forecheck with two guys on ‘TK,’” forward Matt Cooke
said. “I went over and supported. I ended up coming up with the puck behind the net, circled the net and didn’t see much. Then the more into corner I went Tyler was open up high and I got him the puck.”
“’Cookie’ made a great pass there,” Kennedy said. “I was coming off the bench and Cookie made a great pass and I just tried to pound the puck.”
The line of Kennedy, Jordan Staal
and Cooke combined for perfect chemistry on the ice with a strong presence in the offensive zone. Staal scored the game-tying goal earlier in the second period on a 2-on-1 rush with forward Eric Tangradi
Defenseman Kris Letang
threw a pass down the ice to Kennedy positioned on the red line. Kennedy passed to Staal who trickled a wrister into the Flyers’ net to tie it 2-2.
“We were just trying to get up the ice,” Kennedy said. “I jumped off the bench too and just tried to get back in the play. Kris made a great pass. Staalsy’s got a pretty good release.“
After missing 11 games (Feb. 7-March 3) with an ankle injury, Kennedy’s performance is escalating at just the right time. With his goal Friday, he now has three postseason goals and 10 in his postseason career –five of those being game-winners.
“I think injuries play a part in that,” Cooke said. “I think that’s hard. I think that’s an adjustment and he stayed positive through it all and through injury. Now we’re playing probably where the organization saw us playing together and just trying to make the most of it.”
Kennedy says it’s all about dedication.
“I’m just trying to work hard. Things are up and down. You have to make sure you work hard. That’s what I’m trying to do. I come to work every day and be businesslike.”
But it’s more than just business as the Penguins are chipping away at was once a 3-0 series deficit. The Penguins have cut the Flyers’ lead to 3-2 and Kennedy’s snipe kept the series alive.
“He’s a good shooter, that’s what he does,” Cooke said. “He can fire that thing. When he puts it on net, most times it goes in.
“He made a great shot.”