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Penguins Penguins Report: 1/30/02

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

By Dave Molinari


Matchup: Penguins vs. San Jose Sharks, 7:38 p.m. today, Mellon Arena.

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

Probable goaltenders: Johan Hedberg for Penguins; Evgeny Nabokov for Sharks.

Penguins: Are 3-10-0-1 against Western Conference opponents, 0-5-1 in past six games with Sharks. ... C Mario Lemieux has 14 goals, 28 assists in 11 career games against San Jose. ... RW Alexei Kovalev has scored team-high 11 goals on home ice.

Sharks: Were in 0-2-1 slump before playing at Toronto last night. ... Beat Penguins, 5-0, Nov. 29 at Compaq Center. ... Have scored just eight power-play goals in 18 all-time games against Penguins.

Hidden stat: Sharks had scored 11 short-handed goals on road, while allowing just one there, before visiting Maple Leafs.


The Penguins scratched C Mario Lemieux, C Robert Lang (mouth), RW Stephane Richer (neck), D Hans Jonsson (finger), C Wayne Primeau (knee) and LW Martin Straka (leg) for their game at Philadelphia last night. The Flyers played without RW Rick Tocchet (knee), D Dan McGillis (back) and C Jiri Dopita (neck).

With Lemieux and Lang unavailable last night, the Penguins summoned C Shane Endicott from their American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre. Endicott has 17 goals and 16 assists in 49 games with the Baby Penguins, and was selected for the AHL All-Star Game. "He deserves to be up here," Penguins Coach Rick Kehoe said. "He was their best player down there, so he's up here now." Endicott had a strong training camp last fall but didn't sign a pro contract until after returning to his junior team in Seattle. He subsequently was assigned to Wilkes-Barre, where he made it a priority to upgrade his subpar skating. "It's improved, but I still have a ways to go," he said. "Every day in practice, I'm working on my skating. That's something I'm going to have to continue working at my whole career." RW Eric Meloche, his occasional linemate in the AHL, described Endicott as "shifty," and "very strong for his height (6 feet 4)." Meloche added that "he works hard in the corners and he'll dish the puck." How long Endicott will be doing that in a Penguins uniform remains to be seen, but simply pulling on the sweater made last night memorable for him. "That's what I've been waiting for my whole life," he said. Endicott returned to Wilkes-Barre after the game.

D John Jakopin cleared waivers and was assigned to Wilkes-Barre. He had no goals, four assists and 42 penalty minutes in 19 games with the Penguins, who got him on waivers Oct. 2 from Florida.

An Internet hoax caused a bit of a stir among the Penguins yesterday afternoon, when word began to circulate that they had traded D Darius Kasparaitis to Philadelphia for D Eric Desjardins and RW Pavel Brendl. General Manager Craig Patrick was quick to shoot down the story from the Hockeyoutsider.comWeb site -- "I have never, ever talked to Philadelphia about Kaspar," he said -- but not before G Johan Hedberg got a call from his brother in Sweden asking about the purported deal. Indeed, Patrick said he received a call from his executive assistant, Tracey Botsford, asking if there was a need to begin processing paperwork. There wasn't. Not unless Patrick wanted to bring legal action over the fabricated quotes that were attributed to him.

Tonight's game will mark the second time Hedberg has faced San Jose, the team that traded him to the Penguins March 12. And while it hasn't inspired the level of anticipation that the Penguins' game Nov. 29 in San Jose did, Hedberg clearly is looking forward to another meeting with the Sharks. "It's not as big a feeling as it was the first time," he said. "But it's going to be exciting,"

The Flyers didn't seem particularly upset that Lemieux, who has four goals and 10 assists in his past five games, opted against playing last night. "It is amazing, watching that guy," D Chris Therien told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "It's almost like he's directing traffic out there. He is so dangerous with the puck, and he has such a long reach that, if you go for it, it's already by you to another man."


WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON (11-27-9-3) did not play. C Jan Fadrny, the Penguins' sixth-round pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, has two goals, nine assists and a team-best plus-3 rating in 30 games.

WHEELING (23-20-1) did not play.

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