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Pens wonder about Ovechkin's blade

After watching Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin beat him with four shots through two games of an Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series, Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said Tuesday he would not be surprised if Ovechkin plays with an illegally curved stick blade.

"I haven't taken a look at it," Fleury said. "The puck sometimes sticks to it pretty good, even if it's bouncing."

According to Rule No. 10.1, the NHL does not allow for a blade curve of more than three-quarters of an inch.

Ovechkin, a three-time scorer of at least 50 regular-season goals, has never been caught using an illegal stick during a game. Former New York Rangers coach Tom Renney once challenged a blade used by Ovechkin, but officials determined it was legal.

Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar said yesterday he could not advise coach Dan Bylsma to request an in-game measurement of Ovechkin's blade. A successful challenge would give the Penguins a power play, but they would be penalized if the blade proved legal.

"To be honest, I've never checked it out," said Gonchar, who is a Russian friend of Ovechkin. "Next time I'm with him, I will."

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