Penguins Notebook: Gonchar suffers setback, unlikely to play tonight

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Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar had a setback with his groin injury and did not play last night against Dallas.

Gonchar, who through yesterday led all defensemen with 24 points and is a point man on the team's top power-play unit, did not participate in the morning skate. Thursday, he participated in a power-play drill and the first 20 minutes of practice.

"He was not feeling too good about his groin," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said last night. "He's day to day. We'll see for [tonight at Toronto], but I'd be really surprised."

Gonchar was hurt Saturday in the Penguins' 5-0 win against Atlanta. The Penguins didn't play again until last night.

He was replaced in the lineup by former Dallas player Darryl Sydor, who had been scratched from the lineup the previous five games.

Penguins center Maxime Talbot was scratched but said after the morning skate that his sprained right ankle felt healthy. Therrien called him "day to day."

Sweden's not so sweet

Petr Sykora's initial reaction to learning that the Penguins probably will open next season in Sweden, not Prague, was a tinge of relief.

"It saved me about 500 tickets I would have to buy," the team's only Czech Republic native said with a laugh.

Then he thought about it a little more.

"It is disappointing," Sykora said. "My dad and my mom, they came over before to see me play. But there are so many people I knew growing up, so many school kids, so many friends, other people from the family, like my grandma, who cannot travel. Even going to Sweden is out of the question for most of them."

It seems likely now that the New York Rangers, who are heavy with Czech players, and Tampa Bay will open 2008-09 in Prague, while the Penguins and Ottawa will ring in next season in Stockholm.

Mistaken identity

The e-mail Penguins winger Jarkko Ruutu got from his father in Finland first thing Wednesday morning might have been disturbing if it wasn't so funny.

It was in the Finnish papers that Ruutu's brother, Tuomo, a forward with Chicago, had been arrested Tuesday outside the Blackhawks' practice facility.

Tuomo, dressed in black team apparel and hat, was out for a short post-practice run behind the rink in Bensenville, Ill., when police stopped him. He matched the description of an armed robbery suspect who had just confronted the manager at a nearby apartment complex.

"At first he had no clue," said Jarkko Ruutu. "They had to tell him three times to put his hands up and he was like, 'Who are you talking to?' He didn't know. [In Finland] you don't have to worry about things like that."

Slap shots

After their six-day respite, the Penguins are playing three games in four nights and 12 before the Christmas break. That means backup goaltender Dany Sabourin will get some work. ... In addition to Gonchar and Talbot, the Penguins scratched winger Mark Recchi for the fourth consecutive game and the fifth time in six games. The last time the Penguins played the Stars, Jan. 26 in Dallas, Recchi had two goals in a 4-3 Penguins win in a shootout. ... Dallas scratched wingers Brad Winchester, Antti Miettinen (groin) and Jere Lehtinen (sports hernia). ... Toronto rookie winger Jiri Tlus (collarbone), who scored twice in his NHL debut in the Maple Leafs' 5-2 win Oct. 24 at Mellon Arena, could miss tonight's game because of a collarbone injury.

Shelly Anderson can be reached at or 412-263-1721.


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