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Pens back long suspension of Cooke

DETROIT — Oft-penalized Penguin Matt Cooke received the stiffest sentence in his 12-season career when he was suspended Monday by the NHL for the rest of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs for elbowing Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the head.

Adding in at least four postseason games, the left wing will sit out a minimum of 14 games and lose $219,512.20 in salary.

Penguins general manager Ray Shero said the suspension was "warranted because that's exactly the kind of hit we're trying to get out of the game.

"Head shots have no place in hockey,'' he said. "We've told Matt in no uncertain terms that this kind of action on the ice is unacceptable. … The Pittsburgh Penguins support the NHL in sending this very strong message."

It's Cooke's fifth suspension and the fourth since joining the Penguins as a free agent in 2008.

He was banned four games last month for hitting the Blue Jackets' Fedor Tyutin from behind.

"Mr. Cooke, a repeat offender, directly and unnecessarily targeted the head of an opponent who was in an unsuspecting and vulnerable position," NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell said. "His conduct requires an appropriately harsh response."

Penguins lose lead, win: James Neal scored the only goal in the shootout, and the visiting Penguins pulled out a 5-4 victory over the Red Wings after blowing a four-goal lead.

Pascal Dupuis had two goals and an assist for Pittsburgh.

Tyler Kennedy put Pittsburgh ahead 4-0 at 13:16 of the second period, ending goalie Jimmy Howard's night. Joey MacDonald stopped all 10 shots he faced before the shootout.

Henrik Zetterberg's goal started Detroit's comeback late in the second, and Mike Modano tied it midway through the third.

Brent Johnson stopped 37 shots for the Penguins.

"We let it slip away a bit and no one likes to see that," Neal said. "But when you come back and win in the shootout, it's a great feeling."

Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen missed their second straight game with lower body injuries, and Jiri Hudler was out for a third game because of an upper body ailment.

The Red Wings took the first five shots and prevented Pittsburgh from getting a puck on Howard for nearly five minutes, and finished with a flurry of offense in regulation.

ovechkin takes a break: The Capitals want Alex Ovechkin healthy for the playoffs, so he's taking 7-10 days off for an undisclosed injury that has lingered for a couple of months. Coach Bruce Boudreau said Ovechkin is mainly sore. Washington plays the Flyers tonight, the fourth of six straight road games.

Around the league: Canucks center Manny Malhotra is out for the rest of the regular season and playoffs with a left eye injury that required surgery. … Sharks rookie Logan Couture sat out practice after a hard fall into the boards Saturday but is relieved his injury is not nearly as serious as he feared. … The Senators signed goalie Craig Anderson to a four-year, $12.75 million deal. He was acquired Feb. 18 in a trade with the Avalanche.

Penguins 2 2 0 0 5
at Wings 0 1 3 0 4
Penguins win shootout 1-0

First Period1, Pittsburgh, Dupuis 12 (Conner, Staal), 15:14. 2, Pittsburgh, Kunitz 22 (Dupuis, Letang), 19:17. PenaltiesEricsson, Det (holding), 11:56; Staal, Pit (hooking), 15:42.

Second Period3, Pittsburgh, Dupuis 13 (Staal, Lovejoy), 10:51 (sh). 4, Pittsburgh, Kennedy 17 (Kunitz, Adams), 13:16. 5, Detroit, Zetterberg 21 (Cleary, Stuart), 17:41. PenaltiesNiskanen, Pit (boarding), 9:24; Bertuzzi, Det (interference), 18:31.

Third Period6, Detroit, V.Filppula 16 (Stuart, Holmstrom), 1:57. 7, Detroit, Cleary 24 (Kronwall, Lidstrom), 8:06 (pp). 8, Detroit, Modano 3 (V.Filppula, Lidstrom), 10:27 (pp). PenaltiesLetang, Pit (cross-checking), 7:00; Kovalev, Pit (holding), 9:08; Kronwall, Det (interference), 16:12.

OvertimeNone. PenaltiesNone.

ShootoutPittsburgh 1 (Kovalev NG, Letang NG, Neal G), Detroit 0 (Bertuzzi NG, Modano NG, Cleary NG). Shots on GoalPittsburgh 8-8-5-4—25. Detroit 11-12-14-4—41. Power-play opportunitiesPittsburgh 0 of 3; Detroit 2 of 4. GoaliesPittsburgh, B.Johnson 11-5-3 (41 shots-37 saves). Detroit, Howard (15-11), MacDonald 4-4-2 (13:16 second, 10-10). A20,066 (20,066). T2:45.

Playoff chase

With nonshootout wins (first tiebreaker in determining final playoff spots) and games left. Division winners get top three seeds:

East Pts. Wins GR

1. Flyers-x 96 41 11

2. Capitals 94 39 9

3. Bruins 88 37 11

4. Penguins 9236 9

5. Lightning 89 33 10

6. Canadiens 87 37 9

7. Rangers 82 31 9

8. Sabres 79 30 10

9. Hurricanes 76 29 10

10. Maple Leafs 74 28 9

11. Devils 72 31 10

12. Thrashers 72 26 10

West Pts. Wins GR

1. Canucks-y 103 43 9

2. Red Wings 9539 9

3. Sharks 92 37 9

4. Coyotes 89 35 8

5. Blackhawks 86 34 10

6. Kings* 86 33 10

7. Predators 86 32 9

8. Ducks 85 36 10

9. Stars 85 33 10

10. Flames* 84 29 8

11. Wild 78 33 9

y-Clinched division x-Clinched playoffs

* Late result not included

Pens back long suspension of Cooke 03/21/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 12:34am]
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