Penguins’ Jared McCann sees no need to apologize for racking up empty-net goals
DALLAS – Since he joined the Pittsburgh Penguins in a Feb. 1 trade, four of the nine goals Jared McCann has scored were shot into an empty net.
That’s the kind of development that will earn McCann some good-natured razzing from teammates who will chide him for picking low-hanging fruit, but he’s not about to apologize.
There are two reasons for that.
First, hitting the empty net is an important skill. Having given up a tying goal after the opponent has pulled its goalie three times in the past 14 games, the Penguins know this better than most.
Second, it’s not entirely an accident of good fortune. It’s something McCann works on.
“I think you’ve always got to practice the little things, whether that’s in the summer or things like that,” McCann said. “I think it’s something that people overlook, but it can make a difference in a game. I feel like the more open-net goals you get, yeah, guys give you hard time about it because there’s no goalie in there, but a goal’s a goal. I feel like they’re an important part of the game, for sure.”
Whether the opposing goalie is in or out, McCann’s scoring touch has cooled off in recent games. Coming into Saturday night’s matchup with Dallas, he was stuck in a five-game pointless streak. It coincides with an offensive downturn for the team as a whole.
“We’re trying to scratch and claw right now,” he said. “We’ve played some pretty good teams the last few games. Good goalies, too. I feel like we just have to keep pushing forward. This is going to help us going into the playoffs, playing good teams.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review assistant sports editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .