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Penguins Report, 4/5/00

Wednesday, April 05, 2000

By Dejan Kovacevic, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Scouting Report

Tonight's game: Penguins at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7:38 p.m., Air Canada Centre.

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

Penguins: Are 2-1 vs. Maple Leafs, including 3-2 overtime loss Nov. 23 in only meeting at Toronto. ... Are 3-1 in past four road games after going 9-24-1 in first 34. ... RW Alexei Kovalev has three goals vs. Toronto this season.

Maple Leafs: Own one of NHL's best home records at 23-11-5. ... RW Sergei Berezin has seven goals, three assists in past nine games. ... G Curtis Joseph's 35 victories rank fourth in NHL.

Hidden stat: In its past 11 games, Toronto is 5-1 vs. teams with winning records, 0-5 vs. teams with losing records.


Notebook

At the session: Only 11 Penguins participated in an optional practice yesterday at Southpointe. How loose was it? No coaches went on the ice, so D Darius Kasparaitis wore a whistle around his neck and tried to conduct drills. No one listened.

No word on possible suspension: An NHL spokesman declined comment when asked if Penguins D Bob Boughner will be suspended for his hit on Hurricanes C Rod Brind'Amour Monday at Mellon Arena. A suspension could still be issued today. Boughner was issued a boarding major and game misconduct, which calls for an automatic league review. "I don't know what's going to happen, but I don't expect anything," Boughner said. "I've seen the replays now, from a couple of different angles. It looked like a shoulder-to-chest hit. If anything, it might have been a two-minute call for charging because I took more than a couple of steps to go at him. But definitely there was no intent to injure." Brind'Amour has a mild concussion.

More than pride at stake: Unlike the Penguins, the Maple Leafs have a playoff spot locked up. But that doesn't mean they're playing for nothing tonight. They are third in the Eastern Conference playoff race and within striking distance of the second-place Capitals. They could clinch first place in their division for the first time since 1963. A move up would present them with a more favorable first-round matchup -- possibly the Penguins -- and it would increase their chance of getting more home ice in the postseason. "Toronto is a big-time hockey city," RW Steve Thomas told the Toronto Sun. "It's important to have the best home-ice advantage there is in the entire league."

Aubin disappointed: G Jean-Sebastien Aubin was bemoaning his bad luck after he sustained a sprained left ankle Monday at Mellon Arena. He will miss the rest of the regular season and, perhaps, a part of the playoffs. "You know what stinks about this?" Aubin said. "This happened at the worst possible time. I was just starting to play good. I could just feel that good things were happening." Aubin was 5-1 in his past six decisions. He has 23 of the Penguins' 35 victories.

Icy chips: If the Penguins clinch a playoff spot tonight, it will mark their 10th consecutive trip to the postseason. ... The Maple Leafs need four points in their final three games to reach the 100-point plateau for the first time in team history. ... Penguins G Ron Tugnutt knows quite a bit about the Maple Leafs after playing them so often as a member of the Senators. Toronto and Ottawa are in the Northeast Division. Here's one nugget he plans to share with teammates: "They have a lot of offense, and they like to have their defense jump into the play. I think our forwards need to be aware of that." ... LW Matthew Barnaby isn't worried about how RW Pat Falloon will fit in on the third line as a replacement to injured C Tyler Wright. "Patty's a great player, a guy who's scored a lot of points in this league," Barnaby said. "As long as he gets me the puck, he'll do fine." ... The Penguins will bus to Buffalo immediately after the game and stay there until they face the Sabres Friday night. ... G Peter Skudra, who hasn't dressed for the past 10 games, will back up Tugnutt tonight. ... Former Penguins RW Joe Mullen joined the team for its impromptu session to make an even dozen for a pickup game.


Minor-league Report

Monday's results

WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON (20-47-9) did not play. D Sven Butenschon is second in the AHL among blueliners with 19 goals.



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