Penguins Notebook: Murray-Therrien feud simmers

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NEW YORK -- The verbal hostilities between Michel Therrien and his Ottawa counterpart, Bryan Murray, didn't end when the Penguins' 4-3 shootout victory at Mellon Arena wrapped up Sunday night.

They had several animated exchanges late in the first period and while leaving the ice for the first intermission after Therrien accused Murray of yelling at Penguins center Sidney Crosby.

"I don't like other coaches to talk to my players," Therrien said.

Murray told Ottawa reporters yesterday that, in fact, he hadn't been directing his words at Crosby -- who he said embellished an interference minor against Senators forward Mike Comrie -- but at referee Don Koharski.

"Mike Comrie put a stick on Crosby and Crosby went down, and we know full well he's one of the more powerful skaters in the league," Murray said. "I thought it was a very incidental call, and that Crosby kind of dressed it up a little bit.

"So I was yelling at [Koharski] and I guess Crosby turned and yelled at me from the bench and then Therrien got excited. That's his nature.

"Crosby is one of those young people, and rightly so, that the league is promoting as the example of the new NHL and that, and when he turns -- I'm sure he's on camera quite often -- using the language he does, I don't think it's something you should do, that's all."

Therrien flatly rejected Murray's explanation a couple of hours before the Penguins' game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden last night.

"He was yelling at Sid," Therrien said.

So when the Penguins and Senators meet for the final time in the regular season April 5 at Scotiabank Place, chances are Murray will be yelling at Therrien again, too.

Surprise starter

Jocelyn Thibault was something of a surprise starter in goal for the Penguins last night.

Not so much because Therrien opted to give No. 1 goalie Marc-Andre Fleury the night off after the shootout victory against Ottawa, but because Thibault had to survive a shot to the left side of his throat during the morning skate just to make it to the opening faceoff.

Thibault went on the ice with forwards Ronald Petrovicky, Nils Ekman and Chris Thorburn and defensemen Mark Eaton and Joel Kwiatkowski because he wanted to face some shots to get ready for the Rangers.

Working on stopping shots with his neck wasn't part of the plan, but that's what happened when Eaton, using a new stick, got off a shot that managed to sneak under Thibault's mask and catch him in the throat.

"[The shot] didn't follow the same pattern as his usual shot," Thibault said. "It kept going up."

Thibault craned his neck as the puck approached -- "That's a bad reflex to have," he said, smiling -- and dropped to the ice after it struck him. He obviously was shaken up, but returned to face some more shots with no apparent problem before adjourning to the locker room.

"I'm OK," he said. "It's just one of those things."

Eaton said he "felt bad" about injuring Thibault, and noted that he dropped Fleury with a shot on the side of his knee during the game-day skate before the Penguins' 3-0 victory Wednesday at New Jersey.

Learning experience

The Rangers were one of the surprise teams in the NHL last season, when they nearly won the Atlantic Division and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade.

Their place in the postseason this time is far from secure, but New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist sounds as if he is enjoying the challenge of trying to get in.

"It's a learning experience, for sure, and it's a lot of fun, too," he said. "Every game means a lot. It feels like you're already in the playoffs, actually; every game is huge and it's intense.

"When you look back at the record here from maybe the All-Star break, we haven't won as many games as we wanted to, but we definitely played a better game and a more disciplined game than we did before Christmas."



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