The Penguins penalty kill has one goal – to stop opponents from scoring. But Wednesday night, the PK contributed to two goals in the Penguins’ 3-1 victory over Vancouver.
Coming into the game, the Canucks boasted the NHL’s second-best power play, converting 29.2 percent of their man advantages into goals. But the Penguins killed all five Vancouver power plays, and even tallied two goals, one during the PK and one immediately after.
“Their power play is really dangerous,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “It was dangerous tonight, but our PK did an outstanding job of taking away their time and space, being aggressive and making good reads. When we needed to, we got blocked shots from our forwards, and we got blocked shots from our defense.”
On the Penguins’ first kill of the game, Brooks Orpik
and Maxime Talbot battled for the puck near the blue line. As Sidney Crosby
jumped out of the penalty box, Talbot chipped the puck right out to his stick for a breakaway. He ripped the puck past Roberto Luongo – his Olympic teammate – for the score.
“Their D-man was kind of watching the battle, so I thought I might be able to sneak in behind him,” Crosby said. “It was perfect timing. As soon as I came out it was there. It was a good bounce, but a good battle on the wall. It was nice to get that one.”
Talbot said he was simply looking to kill the penalty.
“I was just trying to get the puck out, and Sid was right there.”
The goal doesn’t count for any of the Penguins’ penalty killing statistics, but the shot that broke the scoreless tie was all thanks to the PK.
“Sid’s might have well have been a PK goal, from the great two minutes of work we did,” Orpik said.
A few minutes into the second frame, the Penguins found themselves shorthanded again. With the other team’s power play featuring the always-dangerous Sedin twins (Henrik and Daniel), the PK needed to buckle down.
After a few blocked shots, Talbot led a two-on-one rush with Craig Adams
. Luongo blocked his first shot, but he grabbed the rebound and wrapped it around the net for the shorty.
“It was a big part of the game,” Talbot said. “We studied them and we prepared pretty well. We knew what they were looking to do. So we put our body in line. We basically blocked a lot of shots and did the right thing.”
The goal, which proved to be the game-winner, pushed Talbot’s career shorthanded total to 11 – which puts him in a fifth place in Penguins history (tied with Syl Apps and Ryan Malone). Matt Cooke
’s assist on the goal pushed him to the top of the league’s shorthanded scoring list with four points (2G-2A).
“We had a huge focus tonight that we had to win that battle,” Cooke said. “Just being on the same page and pressuring all at once got the job done.”
Essentially, the Penguins’ PK just agitated the Canucks.
“That’s what our PK is doing to teams, it’s frustrating them,” Crosby said. “They’re blocking shots and making it tough.”
“When their guys are leaving the ice a little frustrated, then they’re doing the job out there,” Bylsma said.