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Kennedy Comes Up Clutch

Wednesday, 02.23.2011 / 11:25 PM / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Kennedy Comes Up Clutch
Tyler Kennedy’s not the most vocal player in the Penguins locker room. But he doesn’t have to be, as his play has been speaking volumes.

Kennedy was the main reason the Penguins were able to garner a point in the NHL standings on Wednesday, as he scored both of Pittsburgh’s goals in a 3-2 overtime loss to San Jose at CONSOL Energy Center – his second coming with just 50 seconds remaining in regulation to force the extra period and getting the Penguins a crucial point.

Both goals were a result of Kennedy hovering around the net and capitalizing on rebounds. Crashing the net is an area of his game head coach Dan Bylsma had told Kennedy he needed to work on, and it’s certainly something he took to heart on Wednesday.

“I know my centerman and my winger are going to throw it to the net, and that’s where I’ve got to be,” Kennedy said. “I’ve got to go to the cage and score goals. That’s what coach told me and I’m trying to get there.”

Kennedy opened the scoring at the 5:48 mark of the first period when Deryk Engelland’s initial shot from the point rebounded to Matt Cooke.

Although Cooke’s quick release from the slot was denied by Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, that rebound jumped right to the stick of Kennedy, who stuffed it home to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.

But Kennedy wasn’t satisfied with just one goal on the night. After Jordan Staal’s shot hit the post and landed in the crease, Kennedy pounced on the puck and whipped it into the net to force overtime.

“That’s where maybe ‘TK’ has not gone in the past to get goals, you’ve seen him take a shot from the wing and score some goals, but he hasn’t always gone in the blue paint,” Bylsma said. “(Wednesday), he’s going there twice to get big goals for us. We knew we were going to have to try to manufacture goals in that area and he certainly did.”

Kennedy now has seven goals through his last 11 contests. His 14 goals on the season put him one short of his career-high, registered in 2008-09.

“I think I’m focusing on the little things,” he said of his scoring explosion. “I’ve got three focuses going into the game: move my feet, shoot the puck and get to the wall. I just try to stick to that and good things happen after that.”
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