Wow. That’s really the only word needed to describe Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jared McCann’s shorthanded goal Saturday night. McCann’s heroics were not only jaw-dropping but the goal was the difference as the Penguins beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 at American Airlines Arena. The win kept the Penguins in a second place tie in the Metro Division and shrank their magic number to eight.
McCann had two goals but it was the second which will make a mark.
“He’s sick. I knew it for a long time. He was lighting up the OHL when we played together,” said Penguins goalie Matt Murray. “I know how skilled he is. He’s showing it right now. He’s a really good goal scorer and he’s doing a good job for us.”
McCann has notched two goals three times since being acquired on Feb. 1. He has 11 goals and 15 points in the 26 games since the trade.
“He had a huge game for us. That shorthanded goal–that will be on ESPN highlights,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “It was a great goal. It’s a goal scorer’s goal and he can score. He can score, no matter where we put him.”
McCann was his typical aww-shucks self when asked about. The 22-year-old at times seems like he can’t shake the feeling he found a golden ticket on a candy bar to play with Sidney Crosby. He has excelled since the Penguins moved him to left wing.
The shorthanded goal sequence began as the result of defensive work by Teddy Blueger who transitioned to a two-on-one with McCann.
“(Blueger) made a great play to me and I just tried to get the puck to the net,” McCann understated. “I think I’ve seen Sid do that a couple of times. Sid and Geno, have. Obviously, it’s not as pretty when I do it.”
The kid undersold his goal. The Penguins lost the Corsi and scoring chance battle Saturday night. The Dallas Stars were often confined to the perimeter but when they had a chance, they made it count. Dallas has 10 high-danger chances in the third period and 17 overall. The Penguins had only 10 in the game.
Yet the Penguins earned the two points. Crosby has won a few games in his career with eye-popping moves, too. He knows the feeling.
“You’re impressed. You’re happy. At that point in the game, it’s a tie game and you’re thinking they could possibly get one on this power play,” Crosby said. “It gave us a big lift. He was great all night but that was a pretty unbelievable goal and a big goal in the game.”
Perhaps no one should tell McCann that Crosby called his goal “unbelievable.” He may not sleep for a week.
The Penguins certainly hope his dream continues.