Penguins Notebook: Same old story against Senators
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HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- The Penguins have changed a lot of things since last season.
How they fare against Ottawa isn't on the list.
The Senators -- who went 3-0 against them in exhibition play and 4-0 during the 2005-06 season -- defeated the Penguins, 5-2, at the Halifax Metro Centre last night in the preseason opener for both teams.
Dany Heatley got the first goal of the game 19 seconds into the second period, beating Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from the right side of the crease during a five-on-three power play. The Penguins had a two-man advantage early in the first period but failed to convert.
Cody Bass made the score 2-0 at 5:28 when Fleury appeared to lose sight of a loose puck in the crease and failed to cover it before Bass nudged it across the goal line, and Patrick Eaves effectively put the game out of reach by punching in a rebound at 14:03.
The Penguins broke through at 5:05 of the third when Halifax native Stephen Dixon took feed from fellow Nova Scotian Sidney Crosby and stuck a shot under the crossbar behind Ottawa goalie Kelly Guard, but Heatley got that back with a power-play goal at 8:32.
Crosby gave his hometown fans a reason to cheer at 15:40, when he deflected a Kristopher Letang shot behind Guard to make it 4-2, and Ottawa's Denis Hamel closed out the scoring with a short-handed empty-netter at 18:01.
Top pick shift
Jordan Staal, the Penguins' first-round choice in the June entry draft, made his NHL debut against the Senators last night.
This evening, he's scheduled to experience his first professional position change.
Coach Michel Therrien said he plans to use Staal, a center by trade, on left wing when the Penguins face Philadelphia at 6:35 p.m. at the Moncton Coliseum.
"We want to give the kid opportunity, to see where he's at," Therrien said. "We want Jordan to be put in a different situation, and see how he's going to react."
Staal, who turned 18 Sept. 10 and entered training camp as a long shot to stick in the NHL, has exceeded the expectations of most observers so far, but still seems likely to return to Peterborough in the Ontario Hockey League.
A strong showing in the preseason games could help to tilt things in favor of having him stick with the Penguins, though.
"Right now, we're really satisfied [with him]," Therrien said. "But evaluations are important not only for Jordan, but for a lot of young players who are trying to force us to make decisions."
Penguins center Sidney Crosby, who grew up in suburban Cole Harbour, had the most publicized homecoming last night, but it was a significant return for goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, too.
Fleury dazzled fans and scouts at the 2003 world junior championships at the Metro Centre, leading Canada to a silver medal and elevating his draft stock. The Penguins ultimately traded up to grab him with the No. 1 choice that year.
"I'd like to put on a good performance for the people of Halifax," he said. "Definitely. That was one of the starting points for me. It's always fun to come back."
Rick Kehoe, whose career as a player, coach and scout with the Penguins spanned more than three decades, has joined the New York Rangers as a pro scout. ... Jocelyn Thibault is scheduled to be in goal against the Flyers tonight.
First Published September 20, 2006 12:00 am