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Penguins Penguins Report: 4/30/01

Monday, April 30, 2001

Compiled by Dave Molinari and Dejan Kovacevic

SCOUTING REPORT

Game 3: Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres, 7:08 p.m. today, Mellon Arena.

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

Series: Penguins, 2-0.

Penguins: Are 8-1-3 in the past 12 games against Sabres at Mellon Arena. ... Have outscored opponents, 8-2, in the third period in their eight playoff games. ... D Hans Jonsson does not have an assist in the past 16 playoff games.

Sabres: Have an all-time record of 0-15 in playoff series when losing Games 1 and 2. ... Went 2-1 on the road during Round 1 against Philadelphia. ... Have won 79 of 144 faceoffs in Games 1 and 2.

Hidden stat: Penguins are poised to win five consecutive playoff games in one year for first time since winning 11 in row in 1992.

PENGUINS NOTEBOOK

C Mario Lemieux, D Bob Boughner, D Janne Laukkanen, RW Josef Beranek and D Hans Jonsson did not go on the ice for an optional workout yesterday at Southpointe. Team officials offered no update on the status of Beranek, who filled in for Jaromir Jagr on the No. 1 line during the first two periods of the Penguins' 3-1 victory in Game 2 at Buffalo Saturday, but did not play in the third. The official report on Beranek, who was replaced by Rene Corbet during the final 20 minutes, is that he has a groin problem, although he is believed to have injured an arm.

If Beranek can't play tonight, Corbet would be the logical candidate to replace him alongside Lemieux and Jan Hrdina. He took eight shifts and got a total of 5:25 of ice time during the third period of Game 2, and has no reservations about doing blue-collar work at both ends of the rink. "[Corbet] jumped right in and played very well," Hrdina said. "He forechecked hard and had lots of energy. It was great to see."

The Penguins haven't allowed more than one goal in any of their five road playoff games this spring -- they've given up a total of four -- but have been considerably more generous at home, yielding seven in the final two games against Washington at Mellon Arena. There is an obvious temptation to play a more wide-open, entertaining style at home, but that wouldn't necessarily make sense from a tactical perspective. "Buffalo's going to be more relaxed [tonight], especially playing on the road," D Darius Kasparaitis said. "All the pressure's going to be on our team. We have to play the same way we did [in Buffalo]."

The Sabres have put just 1 of 47 shots past G Johan Hedberg in this series, but that doesn't seem to have lowered his opinion of them. "They have four very good lines," Hedberg said. "Whoever's on the ice, you have to be ready for, because they can put the puck in the net." Buffalo undoubtedly will feel a particular urgency to do that tonight, given the Penguins' 2-0 advantage in the series. "They're going to try to play it smart," Hedberg said. "But I think they're going to come out really, really hard."

Buffalo's power play was formidable during the Sabres' first-round series against Philadelphia, scoring six times on 18 chances. During Games 1 and 2 against the Penguins, however, Buffalo has converted just 1 of 12 tries with the extra man. Still, the Penguins took some ill-conceived penalties during the first two games and, if that trend continues, it might give Buffalo the opening it needs to get back into the series. "Some of the calls, whether they're good or not -- which some are, some aren't -- you always tend to kill off the good ones and get scored on [on] the bad ones," Boughner said.

The Penguins would prefer to have Jagr in the lineup, of course, but beating Buffalo in Game 2 reinforced the idea that they can survive, at least in the short term, without him. "You have to win with the guys who dress," Corbet said. "The guys played hard." Kasparaitis echoed that sentiment, saying, " Of course, we're going to miss [Jagr], but it's a good sign for our team that we can win without him."

Fans attending the game tonight will be given gold, foam moose antlers to acknowledge Hedberg's nickname. "It's probably going to be a great atmosphere in the building," Hedberg said. "I hope the fans are just as excited as we are."

SABRES NOTEBOOK

The Sabres had an optional practice yesterday at HSBC Arena, with most players participating. LW Erik Rasmussen (shoulder) skated, but he is not expected to be ready for Game 3. D Richard Smehlik (foot) skated for the first time since April 19 and is expected to try to play. D Alexei Zhitnik (concussion) and D Jay McKee (concussion) did not practice. Zhitnik could play tonight, but McKee could be out for the series.

LW Dave Andreychuk couldn't help but laugh when a Buffalo TV reporter asked him if the series is over. "It's four games," Andreychuk said. "I don't know if anybody told you or not, but it takes four games to win. We're down two. We've just got to make sure we're ready to play in the next game. We've been winning games in other people's buildings all year long." Buffalo was 20-18-2-1 on the road during the regular season, 2-1 in Philadelphia in the first round of playoffs.

The numbers weigh heavily against a Buffalo comeback. The Sabres have lost all 15 series in their history when losing the first two games, and they are 1-8-3 in their past 12 visits to Pittsburgh. "That's all stats," RW Donald Audette said. "You take it all game-by-game, and what you've done in the past is over. We didn't win a game against Philadelphia all year, either, until the playoffs." The Sabres were 0-9-1 in their previous 10 meetings with the Flyers before eliminating them in six games in the first round.

The Sabres have scored on just one of their 47 shots against Penguins G Johan Hedberg, and Coach Lindy Ruff feels his shooters can do better with their chances. "We hit him right in the Penguin," Ruff said.

MINOR-LEAGUE REPORT

Sunday's result

WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON (6-4) will play Game 6 of its best-of-seven, second-round Calder Cup playoff series at Philadelphia tomorrow. The Baby Penguins won the series' first three games but have lost the past two, including a 3-2, overtime defeat in Game 5 Saturday.

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