Big third period lifts Pens past Blackhawks
Jordan Staal scored twice, and Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy added tallies — all in the third period — to give the Penguins a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in a preseason game Thursday night at Consol Energy Center.
The game was Cooke's first since he was assessed a 17-game suspension for elbowing the New York Rangers' Ryan McDonagh on March 20. Cooke played a physical but clean game.
"I thought you saw a lot of positive things that Matt Cooke brings to the game," coach Dan Bylsma said.
Michael Frolik gave the Blackhawks the lead in the second period when he weaved around Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek and slid a wrist shot between goalie Brent Johnson's legs. Otherwise, Johnson was strong, stopping nine of 10 shots.
The rest of the game was controlled by the Penguins. Staal buried a rebound early in the third to even the score. Cooke put the Penguins ahead by deflecting a Craig Adams shot past Chicago goalie Ray Emery.
"(Cooke) is still a guy who got in there on the forecheck," Bylsma said. "I think it's more a mindset game for Matt and adjusting. That's something we're going to see."
Kennedy added to the lead by banging in a rebound of a Deryk Engelland shot. Staal set the final margin with eight seconds left, scoring on a terrific individual effort.
Gibsonia native Brandon Saad, Chicago's second-round pick in June, received an ovation following a video tribute in the first period. He was one of the most effective Blackhawks and was robbed by Johnson in the second period; he finished with two shots on goal.
Saad, who said he had 30 friends and family members in attendance, appreciated the gesture.
"I noticed it," he said. "It was really nice."
He wouldn't have minded defeating the team he grew up rooting for, though.
"I was a little nervous, but that's part of playing in the NHL," he said. "I wish it wouldn't have been a loss."