Penguins players recall awful games in San Jose

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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Holding an afternoon practice Wednesday at SAP Center seemed to go off without a problem for the Penguins.

So it's not the steel and cinder blocks that hinder them.

"Not a lot of good memories in this building," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "It's always a fun place to play in, but it would be a lot more fun if you had more success."

The Penguins are 0-8-2 in their past 10 road games against the San Jose Sharks. They will get a chance to end that skid tonight.

It's not that the Penguins can't beat San Jose. They handled the Sharks just fine Dec. 5 in a 5-1 win. But that was at home.

"We got the best of them in our building, and I'm sure they're not going to forget that," Orpik said.

Several members of the current Penguins club remember a 4-3 shootout loss in the team's most recent game here, Nov. 3, 2011. Or a 5-0 drubbing Nov. 7, 2009. Or a 2-1 loss Oct. 28, 2008, when the Sharks were stifling and outshot the Penguins, 34-10.

"They're a good team, and they play well here," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "They come out hard. I feel like the start has always been an important factor in those games that have been close or not so close. We need to make sure that we're ready from the start.

"They're going to come hard, especially here. You want to make sure you establish your game as fast as you can. That's especially important here."

Happy Despres stays put

 

Defenseman Simon Despres was aware that his name had been attached to some rumors leading up to NHL trade deadline Wednesday.

After the team arrived here following a long flight from Nashville, Tenn., Despres was watching the clock when he got summoned to the visiting coaches' offices.

"When the trade deadline -- ding, ding, ding -- came, I was actually in the coaches' office, but that was for something else," Despres said. "I was sweating pretty much. But I'm really happy, relieved, to be here. I'm definitely happy to still be with the Penguins. I was a little nervous, to tell you the truth."

Conner returns to practice

Penguins winger Chris Conner practiced for the first time since his wrist injury Dec. 31 in a game at New Jersey.

"I don't have a time frame," Conner said. "It was just the next step. We'll see how that is for a few days."

Conner said his conditioning is good after skating regularly with winger Beau Bennett (wrist injury) and strength coach Mike Kadar before he rejoined practice.

"It's just a matter of getting your timing and making sure everything is working like it's supposed to," Conner said.

Bennett and Kadar skated after practice.

Tip-ins

The Penguins placed defenseman Kris Letang on injured reserve. He has been out since late January after having a stroke. ... Despres and winger Brian Gibbons flew here with the Penguins from Nashville, but on paper they made a side trip to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Penguins assigned them to their American Hockey League club, then recalled them as a technicality. Those two players now are eligible to play for Wilkes-Barre in the AHL playoffs. ... In a separate, more tangible move, the Penguins reassigned winger Chuck Kobasew to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after he cleared waivers.

Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.


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