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Penguins Penguins Report: 1/10/02

Thursday, January 10, 2002

By Dejan Kovacevic, Post-Gazette Sports Writer


Matchup: Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres, 7:08 p.m. today, HSBC Arena.

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

Probable goaltenders: Johan Hedberg for Penguins, Martin Biron for Sabres.

Penguins: Are 1-1 vs. Sabres this season, including 4-1 loss at Buffalo Oct. 14. ... C Robert Lang has taken 20 shots in past six games but has not scored. ... Have lost past three road games by combined scores of 10-2, including two shutouts.

Sabres: Have won consecutive games for first time since Dec. 4, after 3-8-2 slump. ... LW Miroslav Satan, team's leading scorer, has gone 12 games without a goal. ... Rank 29th in NHL with 45.78 percent success rate on faceoffs.

Hidden stat: Sabres are league's only losing team with more goals scored than allowed, 118-116.


The Penguins had a light, 45-minute practice at Southpointe yesterday morning. All players participated except C Wayne Primeau, who will have an arthroscopic examination of his injured left knee today. That operation will keep him out at least a week and possibly more, depending on what doctors discover. C Mario Lemieux (hip) skated with no difficulty, practicing for the first time without wearing a special-colored sweater to signify he is injured. He plans to return Saturday at home against the Blues. RW Aleksey Morozov (shoulder) practiced but did not make the trip to Buffalo.

The Sabres will be without LW Slava Kozlov (heel) tonight. RW Maxim Afinogenov (flu) and D Rhett Warrener (wrist) sat out practice yesterday at HSBC Arena but are expected to play.

For nearly a half-hour of the Penguins' session yesterday, Lemieux worked on half the rink with the first-team power play -- C Robert Lang, LW Jan Hrdina, LW Dan LaCouture, RW Alexei Kovalev and D Andrew Ference -- to point out shortcomings he has witnessed. Lemieux consulted with Kehoe and assistants Ed Johnston and Joe Mullen but handled most of the instruction himself. "He's the captain and the owner," Coach Rick Kehoe said. "He's done that before in his career, just helping the guys and giving a couple pointers. ... He sees a lot of things up in the box that happen on the power play where a play here or there can change things drastically." The power play was 0 for 6 in the 3-2 home loss to the Bruins Tuesday, often failing to gain the blue line. Kovalev, who shifted from point man to forward Tuesday, will work only the point tonight -- perhaps the center point in an umbrella formation -- to help move the puck through the neutral zone. Ference was added to the power play at the right point.

The defense-first system Kehoe had installed a month ago appears to have been scrapped for good. He dropped his 1-2-2 forecheck in favor of a far more aggressive approach Tuesday -- two men, sometimes three to the puck -- and liked the results, if not the defeat. The Penguins generated 30 shots, including a 13-11 edge in the first period. "We put on a little bit more pressure, and we had a few more shots, seemed to create more chances," Kehoe said. "I thought that was one of our better first periods in a long time. We're going to have to try to keep playing the same way and, hopefully, not make any mistakes."


WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON (7-23-8-3) did not play. The Baby Penguins have the AHL's worst record, highest goals-against average at 3.80, lowest-ranked penalty-killing at 78.6 percent and most penalty minutes at 1,321.

WHEELING (19-15-1) did not play.

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