Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Short-Handed Turnaround

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Short-Handed Turnaround

Article excerpt

The Penguins are well aware of the impact that a short-handed goal or two can have on the psyche, and subsequently the execution, of a good power-play unit.

After all, they had allowed 14 of them entering Friday, still the most in the NHL.

"It can be deflating," coach Mike Sullivan said Friday after the Penguins morning skate. "We've been on both sides of that this year, so we know what that feels like."

Recently, though, the Penguins have been the ones doing the deflating.

They had a short-handed goal in each of their past two wins, against the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers. That gave them a dozen this season, which ranks third in the league.

It is their highest single-season total since 2010-11, when they scored 13.

All those short-handed goals had happened since Dec. 14, and eight Penguins have at least one. Newcomer Jared McCann leads with three.

"[Assistant coach Jacques Martin] gives us the opportunity to kind of play our [style], and we can take advantage of a team if they're sleeping on the power play," McCann said. "I feel like we have the skill on this team to make teams pay like that."

Matt Cullen, who has netted a couple of short-handed goals, cited two reasons for the success. First, the Penguins are doing a better job of pressuring the puck in their defensive zone, putting opponents in uncomfortable positions. And, second, when they force turnovers, they have been quick to counter.

"It's using your hockey instincts and using your speed and quickness," he said.

The Penguins have plenty of that up front with Cullen, McCann and Bryan Rust, and also in Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel, who have earned regular penalty-kill time.

"If a power play makes a mistake or they become high risk, then we potentially have the ability to take advantage of that opportunity," Sullivan said Frday before the Penguins played host to the Nashville Predators at PPG Paints Arena.

Sullivan, however, stressed that the coaching staff is "not trying to coach scoring goals" on the penalty kill. …

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