Mike Weber, a Buffalo Sabres defenseman from Cranberry, played in Consol Energy Center for the first time Friday night, but he already had introduced himself memorably to his hometown team.
Weber got rough with Penguins star center Sidney Crosby Dec. 11 along the boards in the Sabres' end in the second period of a 5-2 Penguins win at Buffalo. That did not sit well necessarily with family and friends back home -- seven of whom hit Weber up for tickets for the rematch Friday.
"You hear about that a little bit," Weber said. "It's all in fun. He's a great competitor. I'm going to play hard every night."
This time, he did not get to face Crosby, who is out because of a concussion, but he looked forward to playing in his hometown and its new arena.
"It is beautiful," Weber said. "This is first-class all the way. I think this city deserved this. The Penguins have been pretty good here for a lot of years and are very well deserving of this arena.
"It's always fun to come home, but it's all business."
Weber went into the game with two goals, six points and 42 penalty minutes in 28 games.
It turns out Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson packs quite a punch. When he landed a left in a rare goalie fight with Rick DiPietro in the waning seconds of the 3-0 win Wednesday against the New York Islanders, he did some lasting damage.
The Islanders reported Friday that DiPietro will miss four to six weeks because of broken facial bones and swelling in his knee. DiPietro has been injury-prone the past few seasons.
Before that news broke, the starters for the game Friday had a little fun with the topic after the game-day skate.
The Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury said he had no plans to fight Buffalo's Ryan Miller because Miller "is a good guy."
Miller pointed out that the two rail-thin goalies are not exactly built for fighting and for him to be provoked into fighting, Fleury would "have to do something really stupid."
Like clothesline a Sabres player, as DiPietro did to Penguins winger Matt Cooke, setting off Johnson?
"Oh, come on," Miller said, his disdain for the agitator clear. "Cooke can handle himself. He gets hit by bigger guys. Ricky's not going to take him down. It was all a bunch of diving around, trying to get attention ... a 3-0 game, guys scrapping."
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Crosby's decision to visit family in Nova Scotia for a few days is one the team applauds.
"If you had seen Sid around the rink, he's still thinking about hockey, maybe even more now," Bylsma said. "This was an opportunity to kind of take a step back from that and get some rest and relaxation for the mind and the body, try and take his mind off hockey a little bit."
Crosby is expected to continue his light workouts.
Byslma accurately predicted that the Steelers would beat the New York Jets in the AFC championship and offered this analysis of the Super Bowl between the Steelers and Green Bay:
"I'll reiterate -- special teams is always a big factor for the Steelers' success," he said. "I think it will be interesting to see what Green Bay does with their offense. If they spread it out, what the Jets did in the second half, it will make it difficult on the Steelers.
"But it seems like in big games you need big plays, and the Steelers have got to come up with that from their quarterback and their defense to win the game.
"Twenty-seven-24 is my prediction, black and gold."
With a nine-day break between games for Buffalo, the story surrounding the Sabres was the sale of the club from B. Thomas Golisano to Pennsylvania businessman Terry Pegula. The deal is expected to close in the next month. Pegula attended the game Friday night. ... The Penguins scratched forwards Arron Asham (undisclosed injury) and Eric Godard and defenseman Ben Lovejoy.
For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1721. First Published February 5, 2011 5:45 AM