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Monday Morning Recall Conner Notches First Career Two-Goal Game

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

NEW YORK, New York -- It was an active day for Penguins forward Chris Conner. The 5-foot-8 winger was with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Pittsburgh’s top-minor league affiliate in the American Hockey League, in the morning when he received news that he was being recalled by the parent club.

Conner finished practice with his team and then hopped in a car to make the two-hour drive to New York City for Pittsburgh’s divisional showdown with the Rangers.

The effort proved to be worth it as Conner, and the Penguins, were rewarded with a two-goal game from the call up – one being his first goal as a member of the Penguins organization, while his second proved to be the game-winner – as Pittsburgh improved to 4-0 against their Manhattan rivals this season.

“I just came and tried to work hard, got some good bounces and played with some great players,” said Conner, who played on a line with Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. “I don’t know if it ever will (set in). It was fun.”

“He didn’t take long (to score), two shifts and he had one already,” Crosby said. “He’s got a lot of speed and gets into the play. He’s able to create chances for himself. He worked hard and got some good results with two goals and one huge one for us.”

 In the first period, Conner joined Crosby on a Pittsburgh rush. Conner, streaking down the near side, took a pass from Crosby and snapped off a shot that beat netminder Henrik Lundqvist.

Conner, who signed with Pittsburgh in the offseason, again teamed up with Crosby midway through the third period. After Crosby got a strong shot on net, the speedy Conner retrieved the puck below the near circle and sent a bad-angle shot through Lundqvist for his first career two-goal game.

Head coach Dan Bylsma added:

“(Conner) got his call up and certainly cashed in with a big game here and was a big part of the win.”

Groovy Kind of Glove

Marc-Andre Fleury made a strong comeback in his first appearance between the pipes for Pittsburgh since fracturing a finger. Fleury turned aside 28 shots on goal to help backstop the Penguins to victory.

“(The finger) was pretty good, it didn’t feel bad at all,” Fleury said. “It was pretty close (to normal).

Fleury missed the team’s last four games after fracturing his left ring finger in Pittsburgh’s 3-2 victory at Edmonton Jan. 14. The puck struck him in an awkward spot that was fully padded. Fleury shook off the early rust and found his groove.

“It was good to have the first few shots,” Fleury said. “At first it felt weird. It’s been 10 days. It was good to get a win.”

Fleury began practicing Saturday with a brand new Reebok glove that had extra padding around the finger, and also more space so that he could wear a finger splint underneath the piece of equipment.

“It is the same one I usually use from Reebok,” Fleury said. “They put a little more room in there for me to put a splint in and they put a little more protection along the outside.”

Fleury’s glove was first tested halfway through the first period when he snapped the mitt to pull in a Rangers’ shot. Fleury also active and confident with his glove hand, making saves on Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky in the second period. 

“It felt good to catch it,” Fleury said. “It gave me confidence for the rest of the game.”

Special Kill

The Penguins penalty killing unit carried over a strong performance from their 2-1 win at Philadelphia on Sunday. In that game, Pittsburgh killed eight of nine penalties, including three huge kills in the third period.

Pittsburgh shut down New York’s power play on all four attempts. The Penguins were particularly impressive in the opening minutes of the third period, which saw the team down a man for 5:50 of the opening 6:10 of the frame.

Pittsburgh killed off a high-sticking double minor penalty and a roughing penalty, including 10 seconds of a 5-on-3 overlap. The Penguins have now killed 12 of their last 13 shorthanded occasions.

“They have a lot of pride in it,” said assistant coach Tony Granato, who runs the club’s penalty killing. “When the game’s on the line, they’re not afraid to go out and kill a penalty. They look forward to the challenge. The last two games they’ve been able to get the job done and were a big part of the win.”

Dad’s Sweep

The Penguins finished their fourth annual “Dad’s Trip” with a perfect 2-0 mark. Coupled with Pittsburgh’s 2-1 victory at Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, the Penguins finished this year’s trip with a sweep for the first time since the inaugural trip on Jan. 25-27, 2007. 


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