December 23, 2010
With the Pittsburgh Penguins holding a 1-0 lead against the Washington Capitals in the second period, Matt Cooke(notes) attempted to clear the puck from behind the goal to help kill off a Mike Rupp penalty. What he didn't expect was that his clearance would sail the length of the Verizon Center rink and into the netting behind Michal Neuvirth(notes):
As Rule 63.2 states, it's not just the defensive zone puck clearances that can lead to penalties, the entire rink is in play:
"When any player, while in his defending zone, shoots or bats (using his hand or his stick) the puck directly (non-deflected) out of the playing surface, except where there is no glass, a penalty shall be assessed for delaying the game. When the puck is shot into the players' bench, the penalty will not apply. When the puck is shot over the glass ‘behind' the players' bench, the penalty will be assessed."
Cooke said after the game that it was an odd accident.
"If I had to do that again, you can bet money that I wouldn't be able to do that again," said Cooke, who said he had seen former Vancouver Canucks defenseman Bryan Allen(notes) do something similar a few years ago. "[The puck] was bouncing. I tried to settle it down, try toget it out. It just kept sailing."
Penguins teammate Brooks Orpik(notes) couldn't help but find the gaffe comical. "I was kinda laughing, because he had nobody on him. I asked the linesman if he had ever seen it before and he said, 'Once, but I think it was closer to the blue line,'" said Orpik.
"I was joking with him that he better try it in practice, because I bet he couldn't do it again if he tried."
But who wouldn't want to see him try? Cooke's 185-foot clearance would make for an interesting new NHL Skills Competition event if small hoops or targets were setup on the other end of the rink. It's definitely a better idea than goalies racing each other.
Additional reporting by Greg Wyshynski.
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