Penguins notebook: Brian Gibbons eyes return to lineup


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Penguins coach Dan Bylsma did not divulge any lineup changes he is considering for Game 2 of this Eastern Conference second-round playoff series tonight against the New York Rangers, but forward Brian Gibbons looks to be a possibility to get back in uniform.

He was hurt early in Game 4 of the Penguins' opening-round series against Columbus, but said Saturday he is prepared to dress for the game tonight at Consol Energy Center if called upon.

"I've been practicing for a week or so, and I'm feeling better and stronger," Gibbons said. "Whenever the time comes, I think I'll be ready."

Although Gibbons got an unspecified injury early in the first period of that game against the Blue Jackets, he was around long enough to score two goals. Being on that kind of roll only made his injury even more exasperating.

"I had a good start to the game and was feeling good," he said. "To go down [with an injury] hurts."

Later in the first round, Bylsma said he expected to find a place in the lineup for Gibbons when the speedy winger was healthy.

Saturday, he said only, "You make lineup insertions and lineup changes based on what gives you the best chance to win hockey games. A player who's injured and coming back in, [the question is] is he able to get back in there and help your team out?"

Crosby concerns non-existent

If the Penguins are concerned that center Sidney Crosby has no goals this postseason, they aren't letting on.

"We're not worried about when Sid's going to score a goal," winger Craig Adams said. "We've been scoring plenty of goals in the playoffs so far. That's not really an issue. We need to keep them out of our net."

Crosby's playoff goal drought, which dates to last year, hit 12 games Friday in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Rangers.

He had six assists in the six-game win against Columbus, and Bylsma said Crosby had "27 scoring chances even strength that he was a part of."

Lee Stempniak, who has been Crosby's right winger for a lot of this postseason, pointed out other things Crosby is doing.

"Even if Sid hasn't scored, he's setting up plays," Stempniak said. "He draws so many guys that it creates room for Chris [Kunitz] and I. I'm not worried. I know it's going to come."

Crosby won the NHL scoring title this season with 104 points, including 36 goals. On Friday, he had no points, three shots, won 6 of 19 faceoffs (32 percent) and was on the ice for all three Rangers goals and neither of the Penguins goals. The Rangers didn't consider Crosby a non-entity.

"I thought he played a real good game," coach Alain Vigneault said. "He made it real hard on us. They had some transition looks. They had some looks down low. He's an elite player that's real tough to handle for us."

Extra effort missing?

Game 1 against the Rangers was the Penguins' third overtime defeat in these playoffs -- they have yet to lose in regulation -- and extended their run of postseason overtime defeats to five.

That's an eye-catching streak, especially when it has come in the wake of the Penguins winning four of their previous five overtime playoff games.

Bylsma suggested the Penguins haven't been sufficiently assertive in the overtimes this spring, that "we haven't come out to win them."

His players don't appear to agree.

"It's hard to pinpoint exactly what [the reason] is," defenseman Robert Bortuzzo said. "Emotionally, we're all invested. We're out there, we're playing to win. We're not on our heels, playing to not lose."

There is a consensus, though, that the Penguins are not psyched out by games that stretch beyond three periods.

"It's not something we want to continue, obviously," Adams said. "But I don't think our mindset is different from when we were winning overtime games.

"It definitely has not gotten to that point [where there is a mental block about overtime]. If we lose 10 in a row, maybe we'll start thinking that way."

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


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