Penguins Notebook: Chance for two swift paybacks

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The Penguins are blowing kisses at the NHL schedule-makers. Well, maybe not, but they are thankful for two shots at paybacks in a four-day span.

Wednesday, six days after they lost, 2-1, in a shootout at Montreal, they returned to beat the Canadiens, 5-2.

Next up: Boston today at TD Garden. Monday, the Bruins scored four times in the final four minutes of regulation for a 4-2 win at Consol Energy Center.

"It was good we had Montreal again right off the hop," Penguins forward Mike Rupp said. "We've had two disappointing losses to both teams, and it gives us a chance to play them again while it's fresh in our minds and we know their tendencies and we know what to expect. It gives us an opportunity to beat them."

The Penguins meet the Bruins and Canadiens four times each, so it could just as well have turned out that they might have had to wait weeks for a rematch.

"[The Boston loss] is something that has certainly left a mark on the players and on us [coaches], and we're working on the reasons why to get it out of our game," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

"I like the fact that we get back to an opponent that came into our building and took two points from us, especially the way they did it late in the game. We get to go into their building [today]. We haven't forgotten about why that happened or the mistakes we made, but we certainly haven't forgotten about the opponent, either."

The Bruins pulled off a similar comeback -- or perhaps it was a similarly stunning Penguins collapse -- when they scored five unanswered goals in the third period for a 7-4 win the first time the teams met. That was Nov. 10 at home, and the Penguins had to wait two months to see the Bruins again.

"Whenever you have something where you want to get back at a team, it's good to do it right away," Rupp said. "We want that fresh in our mind, what happened last game. Maybe we forgot because of the long time from the first time we played them at home. We're well aware of what happened the other day, and we want to have a chance at redemption."

Crosby makes progress

Although Bylsma said a day earlier he would not give daily updates on center Sidney Crosby, the coach offered this:

"He's progressing. He's getting better, but he needs to be symptom-free before we go forward."

Bylsma added that Crosby, the ultimate grown-up rink rat, is staying involved as best he can while he recovers from a concussion that has kept him off the ice for the past four games.

"It's funny," Bylsma said. "Physical activity is not something that he's involved in right now, but he's been around the rink an awful lot talking hockey, thinking about the power play, doing things to try to stay motivated and be involved."

A well-deserved free skate

Eighty-nine students from Fort Couch Middle School in Upper St. Clair skated at Southpointe, got autographs from four players, then watched the Penguins practice. It was their reward for raising $11,641.67 in four weeks to help people in need. Through a program called Reachout, the children donated earnings from chores and small jobs such as shoveling snow and baby-sitting.

Tip-ins

Defenseman Ben Lovejoy (illness) missed the Penguins' practice. ... Boston defenseman Matt Bartkowski, a Mt. Lebanon native who made his NHL debut Monday in the Bruins' win, has been recalled again on an emergency basis. ... The Bruins have three players who are questionable -- leading goal- scorer Milan Lucic (undisclosed) and defensemen Mark Stuart (hand) and Andrew Ference (undisclosed). ... After holding a lightly attended optional practice Thursday, the Penguins began their workout Friday with a spirited, two-on-two scrimmage between bluelines.


Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com .


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