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Staal's shorthanded goals propel Penguins past Blue Jackets

Oct 22, 2006 - 2:33 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- While Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin continue to steal all the headlines, Jordan Staal is proving to be quite a prospect himself.

Staal scored a pair of shorthanded goals as the Pittsburgh Penguins captured a 5-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The second overall pick this year, Staal has scored all three of his career goals with the Penguins killing a penalty.

"It's pretty surprising for myself and I'm obviously happy with it," Staal said. "Hopefully the coaches are, too."

The 18-year-old tallied late in the second period to snap a 2-2 tie. He worked his way in front of the net and buried a rebound of a shot by Mark Recchi.

"(Staal) played really well, and at such a young age," Pittsburgh coach Michel Therien said. "He's so strong and he's playing a mature game. He's learning quickly."

He also scored on a penalty shot to make it 5-2 midway through the final session after he was hooked down by defenseman Duvie Westcott on a breakaway. Staal made Columbus pay, beating rookie goaltender Fredrik Norrena when his wrister hit off the post and caromed off Norrena before sliding over the goal line.

"I wasn't really trying to think too much (on the penalty shot), that's when you fumble the puck or something like that," Staal said. "My heart was beating and I just went with what works. I usually come in on the right side and then just shoot it blocker-low and it worked out."

Staal is one of the favorites for the Calder Trophy along with Malkin, the second overall pick in 2004 who scored his third goal in as many games Saturday.

"I don't think (I can score every game)," Malkin said through an interpreter. "But I'm going to try very hard every game and bring hard work for every game."

Crosby, who came in second in Rookie of the Year balloting in 2005-06, added an assist to give him 10 points in seven games this season.

One of the few youngsters who did not fare well in the contest was Norrena, who finished with 29 saves in his first career start.

"They had a lot of scoring chances," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. "They put a lot of pucks at the crease. It's tough when you put pucks in the crease and there's rebounds and they're jamming at the net. They banged a few home but I thought (Norrena) was OK."

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