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Penguins Penguins Report: 5/1/01

Tuesday, May 01, 2001

Compiled by Dejan Kovacevic


Game 4: Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres, 7:08 p.m. tomorrow, Mellon Arena. TV, radio: ESPN; WWSW-FM (94.5), WBGG-AM (970).


The Penguins scratched RW Jaromir Jagr (shoulder), LW Josef Beranek (groin), LW Steve McKenna, D Frantisek Kucera and G Jean-Sebastien Aubin. Jagr participated in the morning skate, but Beranek did not. No target date has been set for the return of either. LW Dan LaCouture dressed for the first time in these playoffs and took two shifts.

Although G Johan Hedberg played well last night, stopping 26 of 29 shots, he allowed three times as many goals as he had in the first two games of the series, effectively taking all the fun out of those foam antlers given away to the 17,148 fans. The Sabres scored on a wrist shot by C Curtis Brown which changed direction, an easy tap-in by D Jason Woolley and a marvelous wraparound by LW Miroslav Satan. Hedberg wasn't down on himself. "There are going to be goals, and they had to work for their goals, which is the most important thing, I think," he said. "And it seemed like the luck we had last time turned in their favor tonight. That's just how it is sometimes."

The Penguins were kicking themselves for squandering several golden chances in the first period. At 4:53, LW Kevin Stevens was open in front of a vacated net but was thwarted by Sabres G Dominik Hasek sliding back to his crease. At 7:30, Stevens broke in alone between the circles but rapped a high shot off the left post. At 12:57, RW Alexei Kovalev's point blast clanged off the same pipe. Several other odd-man breaks didn't result in a goal. "It was tough to come out of that period with no goals," Stevens said. "We could have jumped on them, 3-0, there. I had a couple of chances. Those were a couple I wish I could have put in. Sometimes, the puck doesn't roll for you."

Stevens wants to end this series as quickly as possible. Not only to advance to the next round, but also to get the rest a team usually needs to win a championship. "If you ever want to win the Stanley Cup -- and we all have our eyes on that, including Buffalo -- you can't keep going six or seven games every series," Stevens said. "You need a series that doesn't go that long, and we all realize that."

The Penguins had plenty of praise for Hasek, who finished with 19 stops and might have turned in his best showing of these playoffs. "You have to give him credit," Kovalev said. "He made the saves. We had a lot of chances, especially early, but we didn't score because of him. He kept his team in the game. I think he changed his team completely. After he made those saves, they started skating a lot better. You could see they were trying to play for him." The Penguins took only three shots in the second period, prompting Hasek to say "that period was boring for me."

How much did the Penguins miss Jagr? LW Rene Corbet, who took his spot on the top line alongside C Mario Lemieux and LW Jan Hrdina, had an evening to forget. He finished with a minus-3 rating, one shot on goal and two hits. Most important, he was chiefly responsible for allowing the winning goal, failing to pick up Woolley when he bolted in from the blue line to score.

Lemieux finished with a minus-2 rating and was held without a point for only the third time in these playoffs, but he generally played a strong game. He was the Penguins' only player to win more faceoffs than he lost, taking 13 of 22, logged a game-high 28:04 of ice time, registered four shots on goal and made several sharp centering passes only to find no one in Hasek's vicinity.

The Penguins' undefeated run in the playoffs when scoring first came to an end. They're 6-1 in such situations now, 0-2 when allowing the first goal.


The Sabres scratched LW Erik Rasmussen (shoulder), D Jay McKee (concussion), C Chris Taylor, LW Rob Ray and LW Eric Boulton. Rasmussen skated with the team yesterday, but his status for Game 4 is unknown. McKee is not allowed to skate for a week.

D Alexei Zhitnik returned last night and logged a team-high 24:50 of ice time after being knocked out of Game 2 Saturday by a crushing check from Penguins RW Alexei Kovalev. He said he had no qualms about Kovalev's hit, which some in Buffalo felt should have merited an elbowing penalty. "My head was down, and I'm skating low, which is not my usual skating style," Zhitnik said. "On the replay, I think it was a good body check. There was an elbow there, but it was against his body. You can't take your elbow away from your body, you know. Usually, when people are hitting, they put everything they have into it, so I think it was a pretty good hit. If I was in his position, I would have made the same hit. It wasn't dirty at all."

Zhitnik, on what he was asked by the trainers who rushed to him right after the hit: "KGB stuff. They wanted to know if I remembered this or remembered that. ... I was doing fine."

D Jason Woolley picked the perfect time to jump deep into the Penguins' zone and net the winning goal at 9:51 of the third period. He spotted C Doug Gilmour darting around Penguins D Hans Jonsson at the side of the net and moved quickly to the other edge for an easy tap-in. Woolley was careful not to call out for the pass and draw attention to himself. "You never want to yell in that situation," he said. "You have to know who has the puck. Doug had the puck, and he can make the plays. I just kind of sneaked in there, and he hit me right on the tape."

In a 1-1 game, wasn't it a risky proposition sending a defenseman in so deep? "Jason knows he can do that," Gilmour said. "As long as we have a third forward high, he can come in. He made a great play. That play was all him."

LW Miroslav Satan's goal at 13:03 of the third came on a remarkable effort. He deked Penguins G Johan Hedberg at one side of the net, carried the puck behind the goal, then stuffed a backhand attempt into the other side, banking it off Hedberg's stick. "I did it a couple of times in practice," he said, smiling. "But in a game, you usually don't have time to do it. This time, I got lucky that I had enough time."

Don't think for a moment that empty-netter by D James Patrick wasn't a big deal to him. He hadn't scored a goal in his past 70 playoff games. His previous one came April 21, 1990.


Sunday's result

WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON (6-4) will play Game 6 of its best-of-seven, second-round Calder Cup playoff series today at Philadelphia. The Baby Penguins lead the series, 3-2, but have lost the past two games. "We're in a battle now," Coach Glenn Patrick said. C Milan Kraft leads all AHL playoff scorers with 10 goals, four assists.

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