Penguins Notebook: Conklin victim of rare late collapse

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It hasn't happened often since Ty Conklin became the Penguins' regular goaltender, but he had something close to a bad day at the office yesterday.

Scouting report
  • Matchup: Penguins vs. San Jose Sharks, 3:08 p.m. today, Mellon Arena.
  • TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9).
  • Probable goaltenders: Dany Sabourin for Penguins. Evgeni Nabokov for Sharks.
  • Penguins: Are 8-1 vs. Western Conference. ... Petr Sykora has 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists) in past 11 games. ... Are only team that has not allowed a short-handed goal while on 5-on-3.
  • Sharks: Snapped a five-game losing streak with 3-1 win Thursday vs. Flyers. ... Jonathan Cheechoo has 3 goals in past 4 games and 8 points in past 7 games. ... Had top road power play, 90.2 percent, through yesterday.
  • Hidden stat: San Jose's 8 road losses are fewest in NHL.

Conklin stopped 24 of 28 shots and his clearing pass attempt got intercepted during a sequence that led to Ottawa's first goal as the Penguins squandered a three-goal lead in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Senators at Mellon Arena.

"The last game, we gave up 21 shots and we give up four goals," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said of Dany Sabourin's numbers in a 5-4 win Thursday at Montreal.

"[Yesterday], 28 shots, four goals. We can't give up that many goals."

Therrien declined to name a starter for today's game against San Jose.

Conklin, whose stickhandling has been a strong point as he has filled in for injured No. 1 goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, went behind his net to play the puck with the Penguins leading, 3-0, midway through the second period. Conklin's clearing pass was snagged by Ottawa's Antoine Vermette near the side of the net, and the ensuing scramble led to Cory Stillman scoring the Senators' first goal.

"Everything went exactly as I wanted it to," Conklin said. "I was holding onto the puck to let him go to the boards, and I was going to shoot it right around. It went past the goal line, and he just stuck his hand out and it went right in his hand. It turned into a big scramble in front of the net and popped to the post."

Conklin is 16-4-4 since being recalled in early December, after Fleury sustained a high ankle sprain. Fleury is scheduled to be recalled today from a conditioning assignment with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton but won't be here in time to play.

On the road again

After today's game against San Jose, the Penguins play five of their next six games on the road, a stretch that will be broken into two road trips sandwiched around a home game next Sunday against Atlanta.

That's nothing.

For the Sharks, today's game is the fifth of a season-long, eight-game, 17-night road trip.

"We're well seasoned on these long road trips," San Jose center and leading scorer Joe Thornton said. "Every [road] game we have to be on the plane for a couple hours anyway. Guys with families are the ones affected. They miss them."

The Sharks lost the first three stops and stand 1-3 on the trip.

Thornton said in addition to watching movies, the Sharks have come up with a competitive way to pass the time. They play games against each other on portable PlayStations.

Defenseman Marcel Goc is at the top of the team stats there. "I think he even plays when we're at home," Thornton said.

Even though more interconference games would mean more travel to Eastern cities, Thornton will be happy to see such a change in NHL scheduling next season.

"I really like it," he said. "Eight times against division teams and maybe in the playoffs, I think that's a bit much."

Sellout streak continues

The crowd of 17,132 was the Penguins' 32nd sellout in as many home games. The team's single-season record is 34 sellouts, which could be set next Sunday against Atlanta.

Overall, yesterday's attendance gave the Penguins 45 consecutive sellouts.

Slap shots

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who missed his 16th game because of a high ankle sprain, did not skate yesterday morning as originally planned and will not skate this morning, according to team officials. ... During a break in the first period, the Penguins showed a video tribute to defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who reached 600 career points Thursday. ... The Penguins scratched forwards Erik Christensen (shoulder) and Nathan Smith. The Senators played without forwards Chris Neil (knee), Dean McAmmond and Cody Bass.


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