Matt Cooke had quite the return to NHL play on Thursday night, playing his first game since a nasty hit against the New York Rangers late last season. He immediately made his impact known, and it had nothing to do with the type of play he's earned a reputation for over the last few years in black and gold.
Cooke scored two goals, one on the power play and one shorthanded, as the Penguins got through a pesky Vancouver Canucks comeback en route to a 4-3 shootout victory. After the game, Cooke gave the usual speech about how he's learned from his transgressions, and at least for one night, it seemed like that was the case. Of course, let's not give him the benefit of the doubt just yet. He's still Matt Cooke.
Vancouver found their way back after falling behind 3-1 on Cooke's second goal. Late in the second period, a Keith Ballard goal seemed to awaken the Canucks a bit, and when they came out in the third, they seemed like a re-energized team. About eight minutes into that period, Daniel Sedin scored his first of the season, and despite not having much going offensively all game long, the Canucks suddenly found the score tied.
The home team came dangerously close to taking the lead in the final stretch of the third period when a puck just snuck through Marc-Andre Fleury and past the outside of the post, and overtime was a mostly uneventful affair.
In the shootout, the rough start that Roberto Luongo had to his season carried over as Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin picked him apart with two pretty moves that left the Canucks goaltender looking rather silly. Pittsburgh left town with the extra point as a result.