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Penguins Penguins Report: 5/2/01

Wednesday, May 02, 2001

Compiled by Dave Molinari and Dejan Kovacevic


Game 4: Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres, 7:08 p.m. today, Mellon Arena.

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

Series: Penguins, 2-1.

Penguins: Are 2-5 in past seven playoff games at home. ... Had second-best goals-against average (1.62) in the playoffs going into games last night. ... Are most penalized team in playoffs, averaging 14.7 minutes per game.

Sabres: Never have rallied from 3-1 deficit to win playoff series. ... LW Miroslav Satan ranks among league playoff leaders in points (11), assists (8), power-play points (5) and shots (29). ... Scored three times during final 20 minutes of Game 3 to match third-period output of previous seven games.

Hidden stat: Penguins have lost two overtime games during second round in each of past two years, but never have won two during same series.


Fifteen players went onto the ice for an optional 20-minute workout at Mellon Arena yesterday. Of the 10 who did not skate, only RW Josef Beranek -- who said he is not certain when he'll return from what is believed to be an arm injury -- is known to be hurt. C Mario Lemieux, C Robert Lang, RW Alexei Kovalev and D Andrew Ference topped the list of players who did not participate. Coach Ivan Hlinka, who usually doesn't go onto the ice for optional workouts, was there yesterday, along with assistant coaches Randy Hillier and Joe Mullen.

Lemieux, RW Jaromir Jagr and Colorado C Joe Sakic are finalists for the Lester B. Pearson Award, which goes to the "most outstanding player during the regular season," as voted by members of the NHL Players Association. Jagr has won the Pearson each of the past two years; Lemieux has won it four times, most recently in 1995-96.

Some eerie similarities to the Penguins' second-round series last spring -- when they seized early control by winning Games 1 and 2 in Philadelphia, then lost Game 3 with a dull effort at home -- have emerged the past few days, but D Bob Boughner insisted yesterday that "last year is last year, and we're really not thinking about that. We still have a lot of confidence in here that we're going to go out and win Game 4." Against the Flyers, Game 4 stretched into the fifth overtime before Keith Primeau scored the winning goal for Philadelphia. Happily for the Penguins, if the game tonight follows the same script, the only Primeau in the building will be Wayne, their third-line center.

Although Buffalo's power play was a fearsome weapon during its first-round series with the Flyers, scoring on six of 18 chances, it has converted on only one of 18 against the Penguins. "We're doing a pretty good job," Martin Straka said. "We're trying to stand up in the neutral zone, trying to force them to dump it in. And, if we have time to pressure, we pressure. If not, we just stay in the [defensive] box, and it seems like it's been working for us." The Penguins haven't fared much better when they've had the extra man, going 1 for 14. "It's definitely a concern," said LW Kevin Stevens, who deflected in a Ference shot during a man-advantage in Game 3 for the Penguins' only goal. "What else can you say? To win in these games, you need to score on the power play and kill penalties. And their penalty-killing has been awful good. We haven't had many chances at all."

Jagr seems convinced that he'll being traded this summer, and the Penguins can expect to be deluged with proposals for him between the end of their season and the June 23 entry draft. The first unconfirmed offer purportedly has -- or will -- come from the New York Islanders, who apparently are prepared to part with C Tim Connolly, D Zdeno Chara, C Dave Scatchard and a second-round draft choice.


The Sabres had an optional practice yesterday at Mellon Arena. Most of the team's top players, including G Dominik Hasek, participated. LW Erik Rasmussen (shoulder) skated, but he is not expected to play in Game 4. D Jay McKee (concussion) also will be out. Coach Lindy Ruff said he isn't expecting to make any lineup changes.

The Sabres won the Jennings Trophy for being the NHL's stingiest team in the regular season, but many of them yesterday credited the Penguins as their inspiration for playing such a tight style in Game 3 Monday. The Penguins finished with 20 shots, only 12 after the first period. "They're a team that works very hard defensively, coming back and blocking shots and lifting sticks," C Curtis Brown said. "And that's something we've learned, that we have to match them in that area of the game. In Game 3, we did a lot better job of that."

LW Steve Heinze is coming off the finest regular season of his career, netting 27 goals in 79 games split between the Blue Jackets and Sabres. But he has no points in this series, and Ruff has cut his ice time with each game. Ruff wants to see more production. "Obviously, you want to be the guy who's out there 20 minutes a night and leading the team in scoring," Heinze said. "That's not happening, but other guys are doing it and winning games. I've just got to keep working hard."

The Sabres were raving about the work of Hasek in Game 3. He made only 19 saves, but many came on golden chances. "He kept us in the game," C Chris Gratton said. "We didn't have a great first period, by any means. And, when you have a goaltender saving you like that, it means a lot. In general, if you're an offensive guy, it gives you a lot of confidence that maybe you can cheat a little bit in the attacking zone and maybe create an extra scoring chance or two. We need Dominik to play like that."

Hasek, asked if he is playing his best hockey right now: "I played well yesterday."


Tuesday's result

WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON (7-4) won, 3-2, in overtime at Philadelphia to win its second-round Calder Cup playoff series, 4-2. D Chris Kelleher scored at 12:49 of overtime, his second goal of the playoffs. C Milan Kraft scored his AHL-leading 11th goal, C Toby Petersen his sixth. G Rich Parent stopped 27 of 29 shots. The Baby Penguins will meet Hershey in the Western Conference final.

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