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Penguins Penguins Report: 5/8/01

Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Compiled by Dave Molinari and Dejan Kovacevic


Game 6: 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: Sabres, 3-2.

Penguins: Are in danger of having season end in Game 6 of second round for third year in row. ... RW Jaromir Jagr has no even-strength goals in nine playoff games after scoring 37 in 81 games during regular season. ... Are only team to allow two-shorthanded goals in these playoffs.

Sabres: Have chance to become 33rd team in playoff history to win series after losing first two games. ...LW Miroslav Satan has four-game points streak, while C Curtis Brown has goals in three consecutive games. ... Road penalty-killing is easily worst of any team still alive in playoffs, with success rate of 68.8 percent.

Hidden stat: Penguins G Johan Hedberg's goals-against average (2.01) has risen above 2.00 for first time during postseason.


G Garth Snow, who is nursing a groin injury, was the only player to sit out yesterday's 45-minute workout at Mellon Arena. RW Josef Beranek said the bad groin that has prevented him from playing in the past three games has improved since last Friday and that he might be able to play tonight, if asked. Coach Ivan Hlinka, however, said he was pleased with the play of his fourth line during Game 5, and that "I don't think there's any reason to make [lineup] changes." RW Jaromir Jagr made it through the whole session, but he said his ailing shoulder felt "worse" than before Games 4 or 5. "But I knew that," he added. "The doctor told me that was going to happen." Jagr said a hit in Game 5 contributed to his additional pain. He will take another painkilling shot before the game tonight and play.

C Mario Lemieux suggested that Milan Kraft, who centered the fourth line for Dan LaCouture and Rene Corbet during Game 4, might have an upgraded role -- and greater impact -- tonight. "We're going to need him if we're going to continue this thing," Lemieux said. "We're going to need more than a couple of lines [playing] 25 minutes. He's the perfect guy. He's very talented and was here before, early this season, so he knows what to expect. He's going to be a key for us."

LW Kevin Stevens seems certain that Game 6 will dictate the outcome of the series, even though the Penguins are the only team in danger of being eliminated this evening. "I think [if] we win [tonight], we'll win Game 7," he said. "That's me. I'm very confident in these guys, confident in my teammates. That's how we all have to approach it. We can't think any other way."

Hlinka acknowledged that he has second-guessed his decision to have forwards Alexei Kovalev and Martin Straka on the points during a third-period power play in Game 5, when Buffalo's Curtis Brown scored a fluky short-handed goal to tie the score, 2-2. "I was thinking about that almost all night," said Hlinka, who said he didn't have a defenseman out because he felt the Penguins were poised to get the goal that would have clinched a victory. "Sometimes you do good things," he said. "And sometimes you do things like I did." Should the Penguins find themselves in a similar situation tonight or in a seventh game, Hlinka said, "I probably will not use two forwards again."

Although the Penguins will be facing elimination from this spring's playoffs for the first time tonight, G Johan Hedberg said he doesn't expect to experience any different emotions before the game. "It's going to be the same big feeling it's been for all these playoff games," he said. "Everyone knows what's on the line."

The Penguins' locker room was decidedly subdued after yesterday's practice, with no blaring music and few loud conversations. "I noticed that, too," D Darius Kasparaitis said. "Guys are concentrating on what they can bring to the game, what they can do to be their best. ... You're not going to have a happy-go-lucky attitude. We have to be serious about what we do now."


Coach Lindy Ruff put the Sabres through a 45-minute workout at HSBC Arena. Only D Jay McKee (concussion) did not participate. McKee, knocked out of Game 2 in a collision with Penguins C Mario Lemieux, has had a setback and might not be able to play for several more weeks. Ruff is planning no lineup changes, meaning LW Erik Rasmussen, the team's best hitter, likely will be scratched despite being recovered from a separated shoulder.

Much of the session was spent on the power play. The Sabres are 3 for 28 for the series, and Ruff has been urging his players to be less fancy and send more pucks toward Penguins G Johan Hedberg. "It seems like a convenient answer, but it's really just about hard work," C Stu Barnes said. "You have to work just as hard when you're on the power play as when you're at even-strength."

Despite having won three in a row, the Sabres are being extra careful not to light a fire under the Penguins by showing any disrespect. D Rhett Warrener, who has been matched against the Penguins' top line for most of the series, was asked if his team is getting the better of Lemieux and RW Jaromir Jagr. "Are you trying to stir the pot here?" Warrener replied. "We're going out and working hard. That's all. I hope we can continue to do that. The only thing we can control is our work ethic."


Monday's result

WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON (9-4) beat Hershey, 2-1, in double-overtime of Game 2 of the Western Conference final of the Calder Cup playoffs at Wilkes-Barre's First Union Arena. The Baby Penguins took a 2-0 lead in the series. C Alexandre Mathieu scored his third goal of the playoffs at 15:43 of the second overtime. LW Greg Crozier scored his second goal. G Rich Parent stopped 37 of 38 shots.

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