Conner replaces Fedotenko in Pens' lineup

| Sunday, April 25, 2010

OTTAWA — Before Saturday the last NHL team to catch a glimpse at Penguins winger Chris Conner was the Ottawa Senators.

He looked the same last night, which is to say he donned a skating Penguin crest for Game 6 of the Penguins' first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Senators at Scotiabank Place.

Conner, recalled from the AHL Friday, replaced left wing Ruslan Fedotenko in the Penguins' lineup for his second NHL postseason game.

Fedotenko has appeared in only two games this postseason, both losses by the Penguins. A reputably clutch postseason performer, Fedotenko is a minus-3 in these playoffs.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma recalled positive contributions Conner made over eight regular-season appearances, over which he scored two goals and played a season-high 13 minutes and 12 seconds against the Senators on Jan. 28.

"I remember having him beat guys out of the corner and getting to the net," Bylsma said, adding that Conner's diminutive size — 5-foot-8, 180 pounds — does not equal a lack of tenacity.

Conner opened Game 6 on the fourth line with Mike Rupp and Craig Adams. During his final two regular-season games in late January, he played with center Sidney Crosby, scoring his lone two goals on Jan. 26 at the New York Rangers.

Play it forward

Senators winger Jarkko Ruutu is confident his friendships with former Penguins teammates, including defenseman Brooks Orpik, will pick up in a few weeks after hostilities from this rough-edged Eastern Conference quarterfinal series have faded with the passage of time.

However, an indication of the animosity created by a seven-game playoff series was on display at the end of Game 5 at Mellon Arena on Thursday night. After Senators defenseman Matt Carkner scored in triple overtime, Orpik picked up the puck and briefly appeared intent on holding onto it.

"He probably saw me coming and didn't want me to get it," Ruutu said yesterday.

Orpik eventually dropped the puck onto the ice, where Ruutu retrieved it for Carkner.

"Through the series you play hard, the end result is what it is, and then it's back to normal," said Ruutu, who played with the Penguins from 2007 to 2008. "That's a real answer, not (politically correct)."

Stay the course

The Penguins had attempted 357 shots through five games. They'd connected on 177, or 49.6 percent.

A most troubling sign was the number of shots blocked by Ottawa: 108, or 30.3 percent of the Penguins' attempted shots.

"You want to make sure you're going by them, maybe changing your angle; it's not like the puck has to go perfectly between the posts," said Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who had 12 of his shots attempts blocked.

"We all recognize they are a good team at blocking (shots). You have to make sure you're delivering. If you're not, then you're not creating scoring threats, and you're giving them momentum."

Around the boards

The Penguins were without right wing Tyler Kennedy (lower body) and defenseman Jordan Leopold (head). Kennedy has missed two straight games, with Leopold sitting the past four. Each player was injured in collisions with Senators defenseman Andy Sutton. ... The Senators were without the following healthy regulars: right wing Ryan Shannon, center Joshua Hennessy, and defensemen Jared Cowen, Derek Smith and Brian Lee.

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