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Orpik, Gonchar back together for Penguins

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Penguins' two most tenured defensemen opened the Stanley Cup playoffs Wednesday night as they closed them last spring — playing together.

In a lineup alteration aimed at improving his club's overall defense, coach Dan Bylsma reunited Brooks Orpik and Sergei Gonchar.

Until a third of the way through the regular season, they had been a regular defense pairing dating to late 2008. In the final regular-season weeks, Orpik had played with Kris Letang, and Gonchar was teamed with Mark Eaton.

Letang opened Game 1 of a first-round series against Ottawa by playing with Eaton. The Penguins finished the regular season by allowing at least three goals in nine of 13 games.

Kunitz, Cooke in play

Left wings Chris Kunitz (shoulder) and Matt Cooke (concussion) each played in Game 1 despite uncertainty about their respective statuses after a morning practice at Mellon Arena. Kunitz, who had missed four straight games to close the season, opened on a line with right wing Bill Guerin that was centered by Sidney Crosby. That line was a regular unit for the Penguins last postseason. Cooke was injured during a fight last Saturday night with Atlanta winger Evander Kane. He underwent a battery of several tests designed to induce physical and mental stress over the past few days, including a few hours before Game 1. He opened on a line with center Jordan Staal and right wing Tyler Kennedy — the Penguins' famed "Nightmare Line," which started the game.

Scratch that

The Penguins did not dress forwards Mike Rupp and Eric Godard, and defenseman Jay McKee. Ottawa was without the following healthy players: wingers Shean Donovan and Ryan Shannon; center Joshua Hennessy; defensemen Jared Cowen, Derek Smith and Brian Lee; and goalie Mike Brodeur.

Record TV ratings

The Penguins paced all national markets in local television ratings for the regular season, setting a new team record at 8.17 average for games on FSN Pittsburgh. That represented a 17 percent increase to best a record from last season, 6.98. All ratings are according to Nielsen Media Research.

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