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Penguins Penguins Report: 4/28/01

Saturday, April 28, 2001

Compiled by Dave Molinari, and Dejan Kovacevic

SCOUTING REPORT

Game 2: Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres, 3:08 p.m. today, HSBC Arena.

TV, radio: WTAE-TV; WWSW-FM (94.5), WBGG-AM (970). Series: Penguins, 1-0.

Penguins: Have won three consecutive playoff games for third time in past two years. ... C Mario Lemieux leads playoffs with three game-winning goals and ranks among leaders in points (9), goals (5) and plus-minus (plus-7). ... Are 5-1 in Game 2 during past six playoff series.

Sabres: Are 2-2 on home ice during playoffs. ... Have defended four of past six penalty shots awarded during playoffs. ... D James Patrick does not have goal in past 70 playoff games, a slump dating to April 21, 1990.

Hidden stat: Sabres have all-time record of 2-16 in playoff series when they lose Game 1.

PENGUINS NOTEBOOK

All but a handful of the Penguins participated in an optional workout at HSBC Arena yesterday, although veterans such as C Mario Lemieux, LW Kevin Stevens, D Darius Kasparaitis and D Marc Bergevin opted against going onto the ice. Lemieux explained that he didn't skate because, "I always take the day off," when there is only one day between playoff games.

The conventional wisdom in hockey is that the road team should be satisfied to split the first two games of a series. The Penguins, though, obviously would prefer to have a 2-0 advantage when the series shifts to Mellon Arena for Game 3 Monday. "We're not going to let up because we have a 1-0 lead," D Andrew Ference said. "We were down, 1-0, last series. It doesn't mean anything. You just forget about the last game and go on to the next."

Buffalo, as expected, had a decided advantage in faceoffs during Game 1, going 38-28. Wayne Primeau (12-10) and Robert Lang (10-8) fared reasonably well, but Lemieux was 5-10 and Jan Hrdina, 1-5. "I certainly didn't do very well," Hrdina said. "We have to get better. That's the bottom line."

RW Jaromir Jagr only played 17 minutes and 17 seconds in Game 1, but that was long enough to set up the Penguins' first goal with a blind, backhand pass to Lemieux. "Sometimes, you have to look before you make a move or get the puck, because the game is so quick that you don't have time to look when you have the puck," Jagr said. "I was kind of lucky because there were a lot of guys around me. [The pass] could have hit anybody."

Primeau's insurance goal at 17:40 of the third period in Game 1 was his first in 12 games; he hadn't scored since the 1999 Stanley Cup final, when he was a member of the Sabres. Bashing Primeau seems to be a popular pastime for many fans and media members in Western New York, so getting a goal against his old club had to be satisfying for him. Still, he said that any sense of redemption or revenge was dwarfed by the significance of the Penguins' victory. "It feels good," he said. "But it feels even better to get the win."

Buffalo threw 25 shots and more than a few bodies at Penguins G Johan Hedberg during the series-opener, but no one hit him with quite as much vigor as Sabres RW Steve Heinze, who picked up an interference minor for bowling him over at 9:34 of the first period. Hedberg said he didn't know if Heinze barreled into him on purpose, but that he doesn't mind taking a hit if it's going to help the Penguins. "If they want to run me over, sure, run me over," he said. "They're going to get a penalty for it."

A survey by The Sports Business Daily determined that Lemieux is the most marketable player in the NHL, with Jagr second. They are followed by Dallas C Mike Modano, Florida RW Pavel Bure and Dallas RW Brett Hull. More than 60 sports marketing, advertising, public relations executives, along with sports business journalists, took part in the survey.

SABRES NOTEBOOK

The Sabres practiced for 35 minutes at HSBC Arena yesterday afternoon. LW Erik Rasmussen (shoulder) participated but said he won't know if he can play in Game 2 until today. D Richard Smehlik (foot) is expected to sit out a third consecutive game.

Coach Lindy Ruff threatened to make lineup changes for today. He mentioned C Chris Taylor and LW Rob Ray as possible replacements, a clear indication of his displeasure with his team's lack of physical work in Game 1. "The one thing everybody recognized in the Philadelphia series was that all of our guys were finishing checks," Ruff said. "We didn't finish against Pittsburgh. I think we let them off the hook too many times. When you've got one hand on your stick and you just swing by, that doesn't make it tough for them." Ruff was particularly unhappy with LW Vaclav Varada, D Rhett Warrener and D Jay McKee.

G Dominik Hasek was equally unhappy with his team's overall effort. "We've got to change the way we play, the way we fight for the puck, the way we hit in the corners. We have to change many things. We need to be more focused, to play our game. They showed us many plays on video, and we didn't pay enough attention, and the players were in a completely different position than they were supposed to be in."

Expect the Sabres to dump the puck into the Penguins' end more carefully to avoid G Johan Hedberg, who was able to clear the puck on his own several times. "You can't just keep handing it to their goaltender over and over again," LW Dave Andreychuk said. "I mean, when you've got a guy back there who's strong enough to bank it out off the top of the glass from behind his net, why give him the puck?"

Andreychuk, on the importance of Game 2: "Right now, we just need to play a lot better game. That's the key for us. We know we can beat this team."

MINOR-LEAGUE REPORT

Friday's result

WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON (6-3) lost, 8-2, at Philadelphia. The Baby Penguins lead the best-of-seven, second-round Calder Cup playoff series, 3-1. C Milan Kraft scored his eighth goal, C Toby Petersen his fifth. G Rich Parent stopped 29 of 37 shots.

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