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Penguins Report: Cooke Not Concerned With Roberts' Comments

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Forward Matt Cooke was a key component in the Penguins’ 4-3 come-from-behind overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night.

With his team trailing, 3-2, late in the third period, Cooke goaded former Penguin Gary Roberts into taking a roughing penalty. Pittsburgh scored on the ensuing power play with 3:29 left in regulation to tie the game and eventually won in overtime.

Roberts vented after the game.

“I have to realize who that is,” Roberts told the Tampa Tribune of Cooke. “We’re jostling all the way up the ice, and obviously he’s famous for diving and he’s never really played with any honor. He’s been a coward his whole career and continues to do that. Out there with a visor, chirping like that and he never backs it up. I have no respect for a guy like that. But I have to be smarter.”

Cooke shrugged off Roberts’ comments in the Penguins locker room Thursday afternoon.

“He’s allowed to say whatever he wants,” Cooke said. “At the end of the day I’m trying to help my team. It was pretty predictable what he was going to do. At that point in the game, down a goal, it doesn’t benefit me to go into the penalty box and even up with Gary. If he can put the attention on me from what happened, then that’s what he wants to do.”

Roberts said that Cooke “never really played with any honor.” Cooke was asked what he thought playing with honor meant.

“I don’t know; I never really thought about it,” he answered. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I stopped to have a conversation with Gary and he punched me in the side of the head. If that’s not honor, whatever, he’s allowed to have his own opinion.”

> The Penguins held an optional practice Thursday afternoon in which 13 players participated.

Forwards Luca Caputi, Ruslan Fedotenko, Eric Godard, Tyler Kennedy, Chris Minard and Bill Thomas, defensemen Philippe Boucher, Hal Gill, Alex Goligoski, Sergei Gonchar, Rob Scuderi and Ryan Whitney and goaltender Mathieu Garon all took  part in practice.

The only excitement generated from the practice was when Boucher and Goligoski put a hole in the glass behind one of the nets. Boucher initially cracked the glass with a shot. Later, a Goligoski shot broke through the glass, creating a basketball-size hole.

“I was surprised it went through but it was already broken,” Goligoski said. “It was already cracked. Boucher hit it earlier. It’s not like I could break any glass on my own. It was a team effort.”

> The Penguins will try to put together back-to-back victories for only the second time since mid-November when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday night at Mellon Arena at 7:30 p.m.


The Penguins haven’t played Columbus since Oct. 21, 2006 – a 5-3 win for Pittsburgh. Despite the long lapse between games, the Penguins know what to expect from the Blue Jackets.

“We know how they play,” head coach Michel Therrien said. “We’ve faced (Columbus head coach) Ken Hitchcock in the past. His system is similar. They’re working hard. This team is working hard. We’re going to have to play a really smart game if we want to be successful against that team.”

The last time Pittsburgh won back-to-back contests was Jan. 16 – 18. Before that, you have to go all the way to Nov. 13 – 15. Forward Petr Sykora couldn’t explain why the Penguins have struggled in that area this season.

“I don’t know,” Sykora said. “When you’re on a roll and things are going well, you get those wins and you get those goals. You shoot and score and basically go into the game knowing that you’re going to win. Now it feels like we have to work so hard for every single win. If I knew the answer I think we would be in a different position than we are right now.”

> Defenseman Mark Eaton has rediscovered his scoring touch – sort of. The Penguins stay-at-home blueliner isn't noted for his goal scoring. But the 6-foot-2, 204-pounder netted his second goal of the season, and second in 26 games, when his shot deflected off of Lightning defenseman Steve Eminger and into the goal in Pittsburgh’s victory over Tampa Bay.

“I knew a guy was stepping out on me and trying to take away the shooting lane,” Eaton said. “I just tried to put it to the right of him and make sure I miss him and hoped for something. What happened is what you’re hoping for. Either our puck lays there for one of our guys to tap it in or you get a ricochet.”

Eaton got the ricochet. He scored his first goal as a Penguin – and first goal in two-plus years – with a tally against the New York Rangers Dec. 3. That goal snapped a 90-game goal-less streak.

So, can we expect to see more scoring from Eaton this year?

“You might see some more of those kinds of plays and hope for the best,” he said.

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