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Penguins Penguins Report: 3/2/01

Friday, March 02, 2001

By Dave Molinari, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

SCOUTING REPORT

Matchup: Penguins vs. New York Rangers, 8:08 p.m. today, Madison Square Garden.

TV, radio: EPSN; WWSW-FM (94.5). WBGG-AM (970).

Probable goaltenders: Jean-Sebastien Aubin (17-11, 3.06 goals-against average) for the Penguins. Kirk McLean (6-7-1, 3.37GAA) for the Rangers.

Penguins: Are 3-0 against Rangers, including 4-1 victory at Madison Square Garden Oct. 27. ... Have won five consecutive regular-season games against New York, all with Aubin in goal. ... Power play is eight for 22 against New York this season.

Rangers: Are 2-21-2 when scoring two or fewer goals. ... RW Valeri Kamensky has 12 goals, 16 assists in 23 career games against Penguins. ... Have scored on just nine of past 112 power plays.

Hidden stat: Rangers are 2-6 on Fridays this season, their worst record of any day.

NOTEBOOK

Penguins RW Alexei Kovalev, who began February with a goal and an assist in his first All-Star Game and went on to become the first player in eight seasons to record three hat tricks in a month, was named the NHL's Player of the Month for February. He scored 12 goals -- including consecutive hat tricks Feb. 7 and 10 against the Flyers and Devils, and another against the Rangers Feb. 23 -- and had eight assists for a career-best 20 points. He scored 19 points while playing with the Rangers in March 1998.

With injuries having removed Mike Richter of the New York Rangers and Montreal's Jeff Hackett from the pool of goalies likely to be dealt before the March 13 trading, the Penguins figure to focus their attention on Nashville (Mike Dunham) and Florida (Trevor Kidd). Dunham, one of the front-runners to be Team USA's No. 1 goalie in the 2002 Olympics, is, by far, the more intriguing of the two. The Predators likely would part with him only because they have a bounty of promising young goalies such as Brian Finley and Tomas Vokoun in their organization and because Dunham could attract a return that would significantly upgrade their skill level up front. Nashville and Florida also have defensemen who might interest the Penguins. The Panthers can offer Robert Svehla and Bret Hedican, the Predators Cale Hulse and Bill Houlder.

There is a remote chance Penguins D Marc Bergevin, who has missed the past three games because of a sprained knee, will be back in the lineup tonight, but he said the game in Washington tomorrow night is a better bet.

The Rangers' prospects for reaching the playoffs are slim, but New York hasn't been formally eliminated from contention, so the Rangers figure to be a dangerous and desperate team tonight. "Every game right now, not just against the Rangers, is going to be against teams that are very desperate," Penguins LW Jan Hrdina said. "It's getting really close to the end of the season, so teams are battling for playoff spots or spots on top of their division or conference. Every game is going to be really tough."

Rangers Coach Ron Low, obviously impressed by three strong outings in a row by McLean, didn't hesitate to name him his starter tonight. A week ago, Low started rookie Vitali Yeremeyev at Mellon Arena because of the problems McLean has had with the Penguins throughout his career. He has a 5-14-1 record in 20 appearances against them.

The New York Post reported that Rangers RW Theo Fleury, who entered the NHL's substance-abuse program Wednesday, was about to be asked by General Manager Glen Sather to waive his no-trade clause so that he could be included in a package that would have brought LW Keith Tkachuk and G Nikolai Khabibulin to Manhattan. Fleury is expected to miss the rest of the regular season.

MINOR-LEAGUE REPORT
WEDNESDAY'S RESULTS

WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON (28-22-8-1) lost, 7-2, to Syracuse before 8,373 at First Union Arena. D Trent Cull scored his seventh goal, D Chris Kelleher his fifth. G Sebastien Caron stopped 15 of 22 shots before being pulled early in the third period. G Joel Laing stopped all five shots he faced the rest of the way.

WHEELING (19-30-7) did not play.

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