Penguins Notebook: Capitals' Fedorov tackles new role

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Sergei Fedorov isn't part of Washington's core of exceptional young talent. At 38, he's a bit too old for that.

Consequently, Fedorov might be overlooked at times because people are inclined to focus on Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals' brilliant left winger, and superstars-in-training like Alexander Semin, Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom.


Scouting Report

Matchup: Washington Capitals at Penguins, 7:38 p.m. today, Mellon Arena.

TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh; WXDX-FM (105.9).

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Jose Theodore for Capitals.

Penguins: Are the first 2008 playoff team Washington has faced this season. ... Had three of their first four games settled in overtime or a shootout. ... C Sidney Crosby's next goal will be his 100th in NHL.

Capitals: Have scored at least four goals in each of their first three games and are averaging a league-high 4.33 goals per game. ... Got two goals from a player in all three games. ... Have outscored opponents, 7-1, in second period.

Hidden stat: Defensemen have scored or set up 10 of Washington's 13 goals.


Nonetheless, it might be tough to ignore Fedorov when Washington visits Mellon Arena at 7:38 tonight.

Fedorov has 472 career goals and needs one to tie Alexander Mogilny's record for a Russian-born player in the NHL. He will be appearing in his 1,200th NHL game, and there's an outside chance that, after spending much of his career as one of the game's premier forwards, he'll do it on defense.

Fedorov practiced at center yesterday and, from all indications, will be in the middle on the No. 3 line tonight, but he already has worked on defense for one exhibition game and a victory against Vancouver Monday. He has earned positive reviews from Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau.

"We love what he's done in the two games he's played defense," Boudreau told the Washington Post. "We'll revisit it, maybe on a daily basis."

Cooke iffy for tonight

Penguins winger Matt Cooke did not practice yesterday because of unspecified soreness, although it is believed to involve his ribs and/or abdomen. His status for the game tonight is uncertain.

If he does not play, Bill Thomas or Paul Bissonnette presumably would take his spot, although coach Michel Therrien has proven willing to use defenseman Darryl Sydor on left wing.

Right winger Petr Sykora, who missed the first three games of the season because of a groin problem, reported no problems after the Penguins' 3-2 overtime victory against Philadelphia Tuesday or the workout yesterday at Southpointe.

"The groin felt good," he said. "It was a hard practice, too, and I went through it with no problem, so I'm very happy."

The Capitals, meanwhile, will be without at least one regular.

Right winger Viktor Kozlov is expected to be out for about two weeks because of an apparent left knee injury, and enforcer Donald Brashear is questionable because of a hand injury.

Chris Clark is expected to take Kozlov's spot on the No. 1 line with Ovechkin and Backstrom.

Rivalry renewed

The Penguins have lost a season series to Washington just once in the past 13 seasons -- the Capitals had a 3-1 edge in 2002-03 -- but the rivalry that developed when the teams used to meet almost every spring in the Stanley Cup playoffs has been rekindled.

It hasn't become a blood feud, like the one the Penguins have with Philadelphia, but the games tend to be highly competitive and entertaining.

"It feels like every game has been pretty tight the past two or three years," center Max Talbot said. "They've been battles, and tough games.

"We usually win, but we have to work really hard to win, because they always battle. And we know they have a really good team this year."



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