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Scuderi Joins Kennedy As Unlikely Hero

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins
STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- With skilled defensemen Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney sidelined for months with injuries, Penguins Coach Michel Therrien knew he’d have to look elsewhere for offensive production from the blue line.


But it’s safe to say that when Therrien considered his other options for offense, he wasn’t counting on Rob Scuderi.

Scuderi, a solid, no-frills defensive defenseman, had scored all of two goals in 219 career NHL games heading into Saturday’s regular season opener against the Ottawa Senators at Globe Arena – and only one since the 2003-04 season.

But there he was scoring a momentum-shifting goal early in the third period, forging a 3-3 tie and setting up an overtime period, where Tyler Kennedy got the game-winner.

“It was a longshot,” Therrien said with a laugh, after the Penguins’ come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Senators before a sellout crowd of 13,699. “He’s a good defensive defenseman, but it’s nice to see that kind of contribution. It was a big goal for us.”

And it was that kind of game for the Penguins. They got two goals from Kennedy, who began the week as the team’s fourth-line center but was moved to right wing on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal after Petr Sykora was sidelined with a sore groin.

Sykora also is expected to miss Sunday’s rematch with the Senators.
 
Pesonen Ticketed For Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
 
Janne Pesonen was the final cut before the regular season opener – he’s been assigned to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL – but Therrien said he expects to see the Finnish winger playing for the Penguins at some point this year.

“It was a tough decision,” Therrien said. “The kid had a good camp. He’s close. There’s just an adjustment for him playing in North America, playing in the NHL. We like his skills. We like what we’ve seen from him.”

Pesonen will remain with the Penguins until they return from Sweden Monday, but he cannot skate with the team. He will report to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton next week.
 
Loose Pucks
 
The Penguins were 0-for-7 on the power play, including 0-for-5 in the first period. “Obviously, on the power play, we could have been more productive – but we’re not going to panic,” Therrien said. “We’ve got quality people on our power play. We’ll make adjustments.” … Sidney Crosby was 15-9 on faceoffs (63 percent), but the Penguins were 28-32 overall … Winger Paul Bissonnette made his NHL debut for the Penguins, playing 4:13 … The Penguins will have an optional skate Sunday morning, followed by a team meeting. They play the Senators again Sunday at 2:30 Pittsburgh time (8:30 Stockholm time) … Co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle were among those in attendance at Globe Arena
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