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Penguins Penguins Report: 5/9/01

Wednesday, May 09, 2001

Compiled by Dejan Kovacevic


Game 7: Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres, 7:38 p.m. tomorrow, HSBC Arena. TV, radio: Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh; WWSW-FM (94.5), WBGG-AM (970).


The Penguins scratched G Garth Snow (groin), LW Steve McKenna, LW Dan LaCouture, LW Krzysztof Oliwa, D Marc Bergevin and D Frantisek Kucera. LW Josef Beranek returned after missing three games because of a groin injury.

It got lost in the overtime shuffle, but RW Jaromir Jagr had a breakaway goal at 10:04 of the second period negated when video goal judge Jim Weaver ruled that he used a distinct kicking motion to send a bouncing puck behind Sabres G Dominik Hasek. "I really didn't know what happened or what kind of reaction I had with my body," Jagr said. "That's why, when my teammates asked me how it went in, I said, 'I don't know. We'll have to wait for the review.' I did try to get it with my stick, and I almost hit it, too." Jagr finished with no points, but he registered three shots and was a force each time he touched the puck.

A fan in the F level at the arena hung a sign which read, "68: Don't let it end this way," an apparent reference to the possibility that Jagr might have been playing his final game in a Penguins sweater. There is a chance that the team will trade him this summer, but Jagr wasn't participating in any such discussions after the game last night. "Nobody thought it was going to be my last game," he said with a wide smile. "Even if we had lost, nobody knows what will happen. Maybe it means I'm going to stay here forever."

G Johan Hedberg stopped 16 of 18 shots to end a three-game losing streak. And, more important, he appeared to regain some of the confidence he seemed to lose gradually in the previous three games. All anyone needed to see to know his relief last night was the unusual way he celebrated LW Martin Straka's overtime winner. "It's hard to describe the feeling," Hedberg said. "You can't believe the feeling. I just fell to my knees and thought to myself, 'Oh, this is great.' And then, to skate over there and jump on top of the bunch, that's a great feeling." Hedberg's best save came on LW Miroslav Satan's breakaway at 11:38 of the second period, when he stuck out his left toe to thwart a backhand attempt.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who attended the game, made a sales pitch for the Penguins to get a new arena, having driven past the new stadiums of the Pirates and Steelers earlier in the day. "This building is 10 years older than Three Rivers Stadium, and this team needs a new building. I'm hopeful it will come. Out of fairness, after seeing those other two magnificent buildings, let's have a Downtown arena that's used a couple of hundred nights a year, not just for the hockey team."

Bettman, on what it would mean for the NHL to lose Penguins C Mario Lemieux from the playoffs: "No, no, no, I don't go there. The results are whatever they are, as determined by the players on the ice. Whatever it is, we're happy to have."

Late in the first period, Coach Ivan Hlinka bumped LW Jan Hrdina, who finished with no shots for the fifth consecutive game of the series, from the first line to the third and replaced him with LW Kevin Stevens. Otherwise, the lines remained intact and rotated as evenly as they had at any point in the season. C Milan Kraft's fourth unit -- including LW Rene Corbet and RW Josef Beranek -- played 14:39 and generated some of the Penguins' best chances. "We got an effort from every single guy on the team," Stevens said. "There wasn't one guy who could say he didn't give it all he had. You love to see that kind of effort. You love to be part of that."

The Penguins have faced a 3-2 deficit eight times and come back to win four times. Each time they have won Game 6 in such situations, they also went on to win Game 7. They are 4-4 in Game 7s, including 2-0 on the road.


The Sabres scratched LW Erik Rasmussen (shoulder), D Jay McKee (concussion), C Chris Taylor, LW Rob Ray, LW Eric Boulton, D Brian Campbell and D Doug Houda.

D Rhett Warrener and his partner, Dimitri Kalinin, were on the ice for all three of the Penguins' goals. "It's probably the worst night of my life," Warrener said. "We've got a minute and a half to advance and, all of a sudden, everything's going to bits." On the Penguins' second goal, with 1:18 left in regulation, RW Alexei Kovalev's point shot skipped high off the stick of Sabres C Curtis Brown and landed in the crease, where C Mario Lemieux whacked it in. Lemieux was Warrener's man. "We were all in good position," Warrener said. "But once it goes up in the air, you look and you lose your spot. Before you know it, it's in the net." On the winner, Kalinin was bumped off the puck behind the goal line by Penguins C Robert Lang, then Kovalev fed LW Martin Straka for a tap-in. Straka was Warrener's man.

Coach Lindy Ruff found little fault with his team's effort, even though the Sabres were outshot, 33-18, and only a superb 30-save showing by G Dominik Hasek prevented the game from getting out of hand. Asked if his team was better than the Penguins, Ruff replied: "They came hard. There were great opportunities both ways. We saw more odd-man situations than we saw in the whole series." On how difficult it is to rebound from an overtime loss: "I think it's emotionally draining anytime you lose. You lose late or in overtime, it gives you a hollow feeling. But we have a day to put it aside."

LW Dave Andreychuk, a 500-goal scorer and one of Buffalo's most experienced players, tried to shake the defeat quickly. "Obviously, it's tough to swallow, but we've got to focus on the next game," he said. "We can't dwell on what happened. It's a bounce that they got. We've just got to bounce back from it." Andreychuk said the Sabres will need to make the most of playing at HSBC Arena, where they are 1-2 in this series. "It's our building," he said. "We worked all year for home-ice advantage, and we've got to make something of it. The pressure's on us to win in our own building. In my eyes, that's a good pressure."

LW Vaclav Varada had heard of Penguins D Darius Kasparaitis' accusations that the Sabres were diving. And, although Varada has done a better job than any Buffalo player of drawing penalties, he would have none of it. "Kasparaitis is the one guy who's turning his back to you when he goes near the boards, then jumps into the glass and tries to draw penalties," Varada said. "I wouldn't say that we're diving. He was just trying to spark some flames and help his team."


WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON (9-4) did not play. The Baby Penguins beat Hershey in Game 2 Monday, 2-1, in double overtime to take a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference final of the Calder Cup playoffs. LW Alexandre Mathieu scored the winner at 15:43 of the fifth period by ramming home the rebound of a slap shot by C Billy Tibbetts. Game 3 is at 7:30 p.m. today at Hersheypark Arena.

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