Penguins Notebook: Hossa is expected to practice today; injury a mystery

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Details of the "upper-body injury" that forced right winger Marian Hossa to leave the Penguins' 3-1 victory against the New York Islanders at Mellon Arena Thursday night remain a mystery.

Hossa's prognosis, however, seems to be coming into focus.

And it's encouraging for the Penguins.

Hossa, who was injured when hit from behind by New York's Sean Bergenheim while Hossa was gliding backward during the third period, is expected to join his teammates for practice today.

"Marian appears to be OK," general manager Ray Shero said. "Knock on wood."

Barring a setback, Hossa presumably will be available when the New York Rangers visit Mellon Arena at 12:38 p.m. tomorrow.

Jagr eyes return to Russia

The New York Daily News reported that Rangers winger Jaromir Jagr, a former Penguin, will meet with Anatoly Bardin, new general manager of Avangard Omsk in the Russian Super League, next week to discuss a possible return to that team next season.

Jagr, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, played for Omsk during the NHL lockout three years ago.

"He can come, it's no problem," Jagr said.

"We'll see what happens. I'm going to meet with them, for sure."

While Bardin is in New York, he and Rangers general manager Glen Sather are expected to discuss a transfer fee that would allow forward Alexei Cherepanov, the Rangers' first-round draft choice in June, to play in North America next season rather than completing the final year of his Super League contract.

A joking matter

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves Thursday against the Islanders, but his most enduring memory of the game likely involves shooting a puck, not stopping one.

With the Islanders' net empty in the final minute of regulation, Fleury attempted to launch a shot the length of the ice, but came up 180 feet or so short, as it struck teammate Brooks Orpik squarely in the backside.

And while the puck came a lot closer to ending up in the Penguins' net than the Islanders', winning the game made it possible for Fleury to joke about the sequence of events.

"I owed [Orpik] one," he said, laughing.

"It's a big [backside]. It's tough to miss."

They play defense, too

The Penguins' offense gets a lot of attention around the league, and that's understandable. After all, it is generating an average of 2.97 goals per game to rank seventh in the NHL going into last night.

Still, it is their defensive work that seems to most please -- and impress -- coach Michel Therrien.

The Penguins have given up an average of 2.63 goals per game to rank 11th in the league and are just .01 behind Colorado and Minnesota, which were tied for ninth before last night.

"It's going to be tough for us to be noticed about that because when you've got [Evgeni] Malkin, [Sidney] Crosby, Hossa, all those type of players, people will recognize your team as a power offensive team," Therrien said.

"But ... we're much better defensively than people think. And we take pride in it."

Monster rating

The Penguins' game Thursday night against the New York Islanders drew the second-highest regular-season television ratings in team history.

The game, won by Penguins, 3-1, had a 10.7 rating on FSN Pittsburgh.

That is second to the Dec. 27, 2000 game, when Mario Lemieux came out of retirement. That game drew a 15.9 rating.

A 10.7 rating means about 130,000 households in the Pittsburgh region were watching the game.

Playoff tickets go fast

The Penguins sold a total of 4,457 tickets for their first two home playoff games in 11 minutes yesterday, the team announced.

Of those, 3,819 were sold online, 377 at TicketMaster outlets, 191 by phone and 70 at Mellon Arena.

Slap shots

The Penguins returned forward Chris Minard to their minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre. He has one goal and one assist in 15 NHL games this season. ... The Penguins had yesterday off. ... Crosby, on the mysteries of high ankle sprains: "I don't think there's a lot people know about it, or have treated. I don't think there's really someone who's found a way to speed the process or anything like that." ... Defenseman Rob Scuderi, on what he learned while watching the 11 games he missed with a broken finger: "It looks so easy from [the press box], compared to what it's like on the ice."



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