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Morozov breaks out the moves // Tribune-Review
By Joe Starkey
RALEIGH, N.C. - For perhaps the first time in his four-year career, Penguins winger Aleksey Morozov truly has seized an opportunity.
Whether that will result in a regular shift in the playoffs remains to be seen, but Morozov proved over the final eight games of the regular season that he can be a valuable contributor if given the chance.
"He's always been a secret weapon," teammate Alexei Kovalev said. "He just needed time to play a little more. Like I said before about myself: When you play more, you're comfortable. It's different when you play five minutes or 15 minutes."
In the season's final eight games, Morozov had four goals - including two for the highlight reels Sunday - three assists and a plus-7 rating. He'd been a healthy scratch in eight of the previous 18 games and had seen precious little ice time when he did dress.
But he averaged about 17 minutes per game in the final eight games, proving that in his case time equals production.
"My confidence is coming," Morozov said. "When you play a lot, that always happens. You get more scoring chances, you play well."
Morozov opened the scoring yesterday with a pretty, one-handed redirection of Josef Beranek's pass. He scored the Penguins' final goal on a breakaway when he faked a shot and went to his backhand, waiting until the last instant to slide a shot past Carolina goaltender Arturs Irbe.
"I had confidence to make a move," Morozov said.
"You can see he can stickhandle and do a lot of good work in the neutral zone, everywhere," Kovalev said. "He's a strong kid. You just have to let him play."
Morozov, who had just one goal in his first 58 games, isn't sure how much ice time he'll see in the playoffs, but he certainly impressed the coaching staff with his stretch run.
"He showed he can score some goals," coach Ivan Hlinka said. "It's good
for him, and it's good for us."