Matt Cooke didn't need a video screen or a telestrator.
The Penguins left winger on Sunday was able to describe a controversial play from the night before in great detail, a peek into the replay he has in his mind's eye.
He also was able to draw his own conclusion: that the NHL was doing the right thing by not holding a disciplinary hearing over his hit on Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid, meaning Cooke will face no suspension or fine.
The play developed a little more than a minute into the second period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final Saturday night at Consol Energy Center, a 3-0 Bruins win. Cooke was chasing the puck on the forecheck and encountered McQuaid behind the Boston net.
"I chipped the puck in [to the offensive zone] early, just after [crossing] the red line," he said. "I had quite a bit of interference from [Boston defenseman Torey] Krug, which pushed me inside.
"After I get by him, I look up. I see [McQuaid's] right shoulder, and he looks me right in the eyes. I think at the last minute, he goes to make a reverse with the puck. I was committed to hit him. I don't drive him through the boards. I make contact. I think it's a penalty, but I don't think it's an ejection or a suspension. But that's my opinion."
There already were hard feelings from Boston fans toward Cooke, whose leveling hit in March 2010 apparently contributed to the end of Marc Savard's career and helped convince the NHL to enact tougher rules regarding hits to the head.
Cooke developed a reputation over the years of being a dirty player, but he has, in large part, cleaned up that part of his game while still being feisty and physical. He had three hits Saturday and ranked sixth this postseason with 49 before Sunday's game.
He reached a last-straw moment when he was suspended for the final 10 regular-season games plus the first round of the playoffs in 2011 for an elbow to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
Penguins management worked closely with Cooke to help him restructure his game, and avoid further suspensions.
Cooke was asked if his penalties for the McQuaid hit were harsher than another player might have received.
"I don't believe in that at all," he said. "I think the referees are trying to do the best job to call the game. Initially, it looked like maybe he was hurt, but he played a shift after. I think that probably affected their decision."
The team had Cooke's back in light of the McQuaid hit.
Coach Dan Bylsma gave a description of the play much like Cooke's. He said McQuaid "looks at the forechecker coming and decides he wants to attempt to make a reverse on the play. In doing so, puts himself in that [vulnerable] position because, as a right-hand shot, he doesn't want to go back to his right with the puck. In doing so, he went from [one] position to one where Matt hit him through the numbers."
The Penguins also stood by their charge that a subsequent hit by Bruins forward Brad Marchand on Penguins winger James Neal was at least as negligent as Cooke's hit.
Marchand hit Neal from behind and into the boards in front of the Penguins bench in the final minute of the second period. Marchand got a minor boarding penalty.
"I was right in front of the one that Marchand hit Neal from behind," defenseman Paul Martin said. "If you're going to call the one and give [Cooke] a [misconduct], I don't see too much of a difference. That's just me."
Bylsma said he did not receive an explanation from the officials about the discrepancy between the penalty Marchand got and the ones Cooke received, but he thought the Marchand hit was "probably a more dangerous situation. Fortunately for James, he catches the dasher with the top of his helmet and not a few inches lower, which would have been his forehead or his eye level."
Cooke is eligible for unrestricted free agency July 5. Avoiding a suspension could help his cause with the Penguins if he hopes to re-sign.
For now, he is just glad he won't have to sit out Game 2 tonight.
"Obviously, it was a great relief because I want to be on the ice helping my team, not sitting in this dressing room worrying about winning or losing," Cooke said. "I've been in that situation before. It's no fun. I'm just thankful that I can go out [tonight] and help the team."
For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly First Published June 3, 2013 4:00 AM