Penguins seeking first win at Consol Energy Center


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After showing off all its bells and whistles, after a successful exhibition season, after an opening-night ceremony that raised goose bumps if not banners, the spit-shined Consol Energy Center still lacks one crucial element: a Penguins regular-season win.

OK, it only has been two games, but they were deflating one-goal losses.

The first saw longtime rival Philadelphia spill orange all over the Penguins' red-carpet night Thursday. The second saw Montreal, the team that knocked the Penguins out of the playoffs to close Mellon Arena in Game 7 of the second round in the spring, score twice in the final three minutes Saturday for a comeback victory.

"Obviously, we want to have a win in this building," Penguins forward Craig Adams said. "We need to get going. It is important to get off to a good start."


Today

Game: Penguins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, 7:38 p.m. today, Consol Energy Center.

TV, radio, Internet: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9), www.penguins.nhl.com.

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Jean-Sebastien Giguere for Maple Leafs.

Penguins: Have 7 goals for and 7 goals against through three games. ... D Paul Martin leads with 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists). ... Are 2 for 17 on power play.

Maple Leafs: Have outscored opponents, 8-3, through two games. ... Are 1 for 10 on power play. ... D Brian Lebda (shoulder) out.

Of note: Toronto (2-0) did not get second win last season until its 14th game.


The team checked a big item off of its list Monday by notching its first win of the season, 3-1, at New Jersey.

Now it is a matter of balancing those first two 3-2 losses with some victories at home.

The Penguins get their next crack at that tonight when they host Toronto. With an anchor on defense in Dion Phaneuf, balanced forward lines and a healthy dose of grit, the 2-0 Maple Leafs appear to be improved after missing the playoffs the past six seasons.

Whether it begins tonight or Friday against the New York Islanders or games further in the future, the Penguins expect to pile up a fair number of wins at Consol Energy Center.

"We will," forward Max Talbot said. "There's still 38 games left here [this regular season]. I thought we played so good in the preseason here. This building is awesome.

"It's going to get loud and noisy, and we're going to play with the lead and we're going to have some big victories here, so I'm not too worried."

But the most important of those things has not happened.

"No one's worried about that," winger Matt Cooke said of getting that icebreaker at home. "Obviously, we wanted to do it Game 1, and we wanted to do it [Saturday] night, but I don't think there's added pressure for that."

After going 3-0 in preseason home games, the Penguins watched Flyers center Danny Briere bag the first official goal in arena history in a game in which Philadelphia never trailed.

The game against Montreal was even more emotion-sapping. The Penguins got their first lead at Consol Energy Center when rookie Mark Letestu put them ahead, 2-1, early in the third period.

The lead lasted 9:06 before the Canadiens struck for two goals in a 24-second span in the final three minutes of regulation to win it.

Team captain Sidney Crosby thinks the late lapse was mostly an anomaly, but one that had some staying power.

"We carried the play, but they got a chance to score," Crosby said. "[If] those don't go in, we're probably talking about how good we played. But, at the end of the day, you're judged on wins and losses.

"I think going through those situations helps, as much as you don't like to have them. Maybe you have a little more hunger to get the next one."

The Penguins also have a different sort of precedent they can refer to in terms of games that are decided so late like the one against the Canadiens.

Eight times last season, the Penguins produced a one-goal win after getting a go-ahead or tying goal in the final four minutes of regulation.

With mostly returning players, they would seem to still have the talent to be a quick-strike team, but they need to prove it, according to Adams.

"You have to build that identity," he said. "I don't think it carries over from year to year. To say we're going to be a good third-period team or overtime team, certainly we want to be and we think we can be, but we have to do it."

For them, it would be nice if they could establish that at their new home.


NOTES -- The team had no medical updates on defensemen Brooks Orpik (believed to be groin) and Zbynek Michalek (believed to be right shoulder). However, it seems that one or both are questionable at best for the Toronto game because defenseman Andrew Hutchinson, who was among the final training camp cuts, was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. ... The Penguins had their first day off Tuesday since Sept. 29.


For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721


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