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Penguins Penguins Report: 10/17/01

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Compiled by Dejan Kovacevic


Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators, 7:08 p.m. tomorrow, Corel Centre. TV, radio: Fox Sports Net; WWSW-FM (94.5), WBGG-AM (970).


The Penguins scratched C Wayne Primeau (foot), RW Alexei Kovalev (knee), D Janne Laukkanen (knee), D Hans Jonsson (foot) and RW Krzysztof Oliwa. Kovalev had arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday and is expected to miss a week. The rest of the injured players are out until November. Team officials had expected D Andrew Ference to sit out because of a rib injury sustained Sunday in Buffalo, but he suited up and showed no ill effects, crushing Ottawa RW Daniel Alfredsson with a big check on his second shift. The Senators scratched RW Magnus Arvedson (groin), C Steve Martins, D Ricard Persson and D Shane Hnidy. Arvedson is expected to return when the Penguins and Senators meet again tomorrow.

The Senators were awarded a penalty shot at 17:07 of the first period in highly unusual fashion. Penguins D Darius Kasparaitis was tied up with Ottawa LW Shawn McEachern, and Kasparaitis' stick popped out of his hands and landed in front of Senators D Zdeno Chara as Chara was shooting from the right point. The shot was blocked by Kasparaitis' fallen stick, and referee Mike Hasenfratz called for a penalty shot. Assuming Kasparaitis threw the stick -- and he disputed that -- it was the correct call, based on NHL Rule 88(a) which penalizes a player who "throws or shoots an object at the puck in his defending zone." Hasenfratz ruled incorrectly, though, when he allowed Ottawa to substitute LW Marian Hossa to take the shot instead of Chara, as Rule 88(a) states that the player who takes the shot must be the "player who was fouled." Hossa's attempt was stuffed by Penguins G Johan Hedberg. "I've never seen anything like that," Penguins GM Craig Patrick said. "We were wondering what was going on." The penalty shot was the 33rd against the Penguins, the 24th to be stopped.

Coach Rick Kehoe unveiled his new line combinations, highlighted by the trio of C Mario Lemieux between LW Martin Straka and RW Toby Petersen. No. 2 was C Robert Lang, LW Milan Kraft and RW Aleksey Morozov, and No. 3 was C Kris Beech, LW Jan Hrdina and RW Stephane Richer. The fourth line had LW Kevin Stevens and RW Dan LaCouture working around a double-shifting Lang. The defense pairings remained unchanged. Because of injuries, Kehoe used 11 forwards and seven defensemen. "We just want to try to find some chemistry," Kehoe said. "I've said that word a lot in the past couple of days, but that's what we're trying to do. We need to find the right combinations, find the guys who are going to do the job together. You've got to start somewhere, and that's what we're looking at. Hopefully, we don't have to make too many changes."

In Petersen's first NHL stint last December, he had an opportunity to skate on a line with Jaromir Jagr. And last night, he worked for the first time next to Lemieux. "Oh, it's a big thrill for me," Petersen said. "I remember watching him on TV as a kid. I taped the '87 Canada Cup and used to watch his winning goal over and over. It's unbelievable." Petersen scored the first of his three goals on his first shift, 30 seconds into the game, without Lemieux touching the puck. He made a point to not pass to Lemieux at every opportunity, mindful of lessons he learned last season. "The thing I was a little guilty of with Jagr was that I was trying to force the puck to him sometimes. I learned right away you can't do that because there were guys all over him. Guys are always keying on the great players like Jagr and Lemieux."

Despite having four regulars out of the lineup because of injury, including a 44-goal scorer in Kovalev, Kehoe bristled at the idea of using that as an excuse: "Every team has injuries. That's how you find out about a lot of people on your team, when you lose some of them and see who steps up." Ottawa Coach Jacques Martin was aware of all the Penguins' missing players, but he, too, shrugged it off: "We've played games where we've had people missing, and we've played better. I don't think you look at that. You don't control that. They've still got a lot of talent on that team."

Stevens expressed plenty of respect for the Senators' defensive diligence and overall team speed: "They play a great, uptempo style. They've got great skaters, they're good on the blue line, and they're all fast." But he also, perhaps inadvertently, took a bit of a shot at the Ottawa franchise: "Through 82 games, they're as good as any team in the game." In the past three seasons, the Senators have won 44, 41 and 48 games, but have been knocked out in the first round of Stanley Cup playoffs each year, going 2-12 in the postseason.

McEachern, a member of the Penguins' 1992 championship team, offered a hearty endorsement for Kehoe as head coach: "I think it's great. He's been around a long time, going back to before when I was here. He was a quiet guy when I was here, but I remember him helping me out a lot when I played here. And I know he was a great player, so he can relate to the guys in the room well. I'm sure he's going to do a great job."

The crowd of 14,907 was 2,051 below capacity, marking the third consecutive non-sellout after a string of 33 sellouts.


WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON (0-4-1) did not play.

WHEELING (1-1) did not play.

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