Penguins Notebook: Cooke suspended two games
Penguins forward Matt Cooke fights Rangers forward Ryan Callahan in the third period of Saturday night's game.
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Penguins winger Matt Cooke will miss tonight's rematch with the Rangers in New York as well as the team's home game Thursday against Colorado. He was suspended for two games yesterday for what the NHL called "a deliberate check to the head area" of Rangers forward Artem Anisimov at 7:39 of the third period of Saturday's 8-3 win.
Cooke, who will forfeit $29,268.30 in salary that will go to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund, got an interference penalty on the play. Anisimov did not play the rest of the game.
"He leaves his feet. It's an absolute head shot," Rangers coach John Tortorella said after the game.
Cooke said Anisimov "was coming across the middle, and I'm a guy who finishes his checks."
That sparked a series of incidents that gave the Penguins several minutes of power-play time in the third period.
It remains to be seen whether the animosity will carry over to tonight. The Penguins flew to New York yesterday after being given the day off from practice.
"I don't know," goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. "I'm sure nobody wants to get a stupid penalty and give many minutes of power play to the other team. I guess we'll see."
With injured players coming back lately, the Penguins are carrying an extra forward. Chris Bourque was a healthy scratch Saturday.
The Rangers might have been seen as taking a chance when they signed Marian Gaborik as a free agent in July. Not because the winger lacks talent -- he has speed and a sniper's shot -- but because he had developed a reputation for being injury-prone.
Gaborik has missed just two games this season. In 24 games, he has 19 goals and 35 points, putting him second in NHL scoring as of yesterday.
Matched often against Jordan Staal's line Saturday, Gaborik was relatively quiet, if you can call two assists and a first-period short breakaway quiet. He had a goal in the Rangers' season-opening 3-2 loss against the Penguins. And the Penguins will have the disadvantage in matchups as the road team tonight.
Center Sidney Crosby said the challenge for players of all positions is to always keep track of Gaborik.
"He might be able to kind of sit in the weeds back there and break away and look for loose pucks or chipped pucks through the neutral zone," Crosby said.
The last time Max Talbot had scored was June 12. You might remember his two goals that night. They were enough to beat Detroit, 2-1, in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.
Talbot's goal Saturday night might have been just one of eight by the Penguins and might have been overshadowed by the five-point night by Crosby, his linemate, but it meant a lot to him.
He was playing in just his sixth game after having offseason surgery on his left shoulder and had just one assist entering the game. In the first period, he converted a feed from Crosby and scored on his only shot of the game, giving the Penguins a 3-1 lead.
"It definitely feels great," Talbot said. "It's a big pressure relief. Playing on the first line, you want to contribute, and do your things."
Among the many things Crosby did Saturday that made it a great game for him -- three goals, two assists, five shots, a 75 percent faceoff night and no penalties for a third consecutive game -- was a move early on that portended the night he was going to have.
He drove toward the net and split the Rangers' defense, something he hasn't done much this season, although it didn't result in a goal.
"I just tried to read the play," Crosby said. "There was an opening there. It's hard to do that. A lot of teams play pretty tight in the neutral zone, and usually stick pretty close to me here.
"But I had a chance coming off the bench, so I was able to get some speed [moving into the New York end]."
First Published November 30, 2009 12:00 am