Penguins Notebook: Ponikarovsky set for debut
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Alexei Ponikarovsky was closely watching the Penguins on television Thursday night when they played against the Rangers in New York.
After all, these were his new teammates.
It likely would have been difficult to come away unimpressed, as the Penguins needed 55 shots against Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist for a 5-4, overtime victory but were dominant in many facets.
"Everybody was working hard, going hard on the forecheck," Ponikarovsky said Friday. "That's how they created all the turnovers. I looked at the Rangers -- they were pretty tired. They put a lot of pressure on them, battled to the end and won the game."
Ponikarovsky practiced with the Penguins for the first time Friday, although the formal part of the workout at Southpointe lasted only 25 minutes.
He was acquired Tuesday night in a trade with Toronto for prospect Luca Caputi and defenseman Martin Skoula. He did not obtain the required United States work visa until Thursday afternoon, too late to play that night.
Ponikarovsky will make his Penguins debut today when the Penguins host Dallas in an afternoon game. He hasn't played since Feb. 12.
"It's been awhile with the [Olympic] break since I've played, so I'm really looking forward to it," he said.
Likewise for coach Dan Bylsma.
"Can't wait to see him," Bylsma said of the hulking left winger known for going to the net and bringing the puck out of the corners with his 6-foot-4, 229-pound frame.
Bylsma said Ponikarovsky will see some power-play time but might not kill penalties since the Penguins have several regulars for that.
The coach also said Ponikarovsky might be used on different lines, especially if winger Bill Guerin misses his second game because of back spasms. Guerin didn't play Thursday or practice Friday.
If Guerin can't play, Bylsma won't have to make a decision about scratching a healthy forward to make room for Ponikarovsky in the lineup.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who was admittedly rusty Thursday night in his first game since Feb. 14, will start against Dallas, Bylsma said.
Fleury gave up four goals on 12 shots before being pulled. Brent Johnson finished the game and got the win.
Kari Lehtonen is expected to start for the Stars. He made his season debut Thursday night in relief of Marty Turco after Turco gave up four goals on 11 shots in a 6-1 loss to St. Louis. Lehtonen, who was acquired by the Stars from Atlanta in a trade last month, had not played since April because of back problems.
It seems like maybe something in the Stars, but the culprit this time is the sun.
Around 1:19 p.m. today, which would be in the first period, the FSN Pittsburgh broadcast of the Penguins' game most likely will be disrupted for about 2-4 minutes because of a phenomenon called a sun outage.
It affects broadcasts at times because the Earth, the satellite dish being used and the sun align in such a way that the sun's rays cause problems with the transmission. Last year, FSN Pittsburgh had problems with a storm and lightning that caused a blackout for part of the broadcast of Penguins' 4-1 win March 1 at Dallas.
The winning goal Thursday night, credited to Jordan Staal, was changed to Evgeni Malkin after Staal said he did not deflect in the overtime shot that produced a 5-4 win against the Rangers. The assists went to Sergei Gonchar and Staal. ... Three of the Penguins' Olympians -- Malkin, center Sidney Crosby, and defenesman Brooks Orpik -- were given the day off from practice. ... Forward Mike Rupp is expected to play in his 400th career game, Malkin his 300th and defenseman Kris Letang his 200th.
First Published March 6, 2010 12:00 am