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Penguins Report: 12/23/99

Thursday, December 23, 1999

By Dave Molinari, Post-Gazette Sports Writer


Tonight's game: Tampa Bay Lightning at Penguins, 7:38 p.m., Mellon Arena.

TV, radio: Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh; WWSW-FM (94.5), WWSW-AM (970).

Penguins: Have won eight of past 10 home games ... Are just 2-6 against Southeast Division opponents, including two losses to Lightning ... Became first NHL team to have three goalies with shutouts this season when Peter Skudra blanked Islanders Tuesday.

Lightning: Have lost three games in row ... Are 1-7-2 in past 10 games on road, and have league's second-fewest road points, nine ... RW Stephane Richer needs one goal for 400 in NHL.

Hidden stat: Penguins are 11-8 when scoring first goal of game, 2-8-3 when opponents get it.


Skudra streaking: G Peter Skudra, scheduled to make his second consecutive tonight, has not allowed a goal in 82 minutes, 43 seconds. That streak dates to the second period of the Penguins' 5-3 loss at Carolina Nov. 27.

Kovalev not worried: Although RW Alexei Kovalev doesn't have a goal in eight games -- he got his most recent one Dec. 4 in Toronto -- he insists that, "it's not really a big problem," and that there is no reason to dwell on his personal drought "as long as the team wins and I keep having chances."

No decision on Bonvie: GM Craig Patrick said RW Dennis Bonvie, one of the top forwards with the Penguins' minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre this season, "deserves to come up here at some point," but that he won't necessarily be recalled before the Penguins play in Chicago Sunday. After Penguins D Darius Kasparaitis gave Blackhawks RW Jean-Pierre Dumont a concussion with an elbow to the head at the Civic Arena Oct. 16, Chicago players and management vowed revenge, which is why Bonvie -- who leads the Baby Penguins with 205 penalty minutes and is an accomplished fighter -- is a logical candidate for recall before the weekend. Patrick said Bonvie got consideration when the Penguins called up four players last weekend, and "there's consideration being given to bringing him up" because of his solid overall play, even if he isn't promoted for the Blackhawks game.

Who are those guys? Herb Brooks might have gotten here in time to help save the Penguins' season, but he didn't show up early enough to make it onto the company Christmas card. The team photo that graces the front of the Penguins' official card includes Kevin Constantine, whom Brooks replaced as coach Dec. 9, and former assistants Mike Eaves, Don Jackson and Troy Ward.

No happy returns: The Penguins haven't figured out how to beat the Lightning this season -- they're 0-2 against Tampa Bay -- and they'll have to try to do it tonight without at least five regulars. Team officials said G Tom Barrasso (back), LW Matthew Barnaby (concussion), LW Tom Chorske (shoulder), C Martin Straka (ribs) and RW Rob Brown (knee) are scheduled to sit out again because of their injuries.


Tuesday's results

WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON (8-15-5) did not play. RW Valentin Morozov has a five-game points streak with three goals and two assists. He has nine of his 15 points this month.

WHEELING (8-16-2) did not play.

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