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Kunitz's new son in time

By Mike Prisuta and Ed Moran,
Friday, April 17, 2009

Just in time

• Left winger Chris Kunitz suspected he was going to be able to play in Game 1 against Philadelphia once his son Zachary James was born at 9:41 a.m. Wednesday.

Penguins interim coach Dan Bylsma had left open the possibility that Kunitz wouldn't be available for the opening of the Penguins' playoff series against the Flyers while explaining Kunitz's absence from Wednesday morning's game-day practice.

"Leading up to it, I wasn't sure," Kunitz said Thursday. "I just waited to see how my wife felt and to talk it over, make sure the baby was OK and all that kind of stuff.

"We had called the team to let them know we had a baby, and I told them I'd call them back (regarding whether he'd play)."

That second call, Kunitz said, came between 11 a.m. and noon.

Wasting no time

• Kunitz's impact against the Flyers was felt almost immediately. He crunched Philadelphia defenseman Kimmo Timonen into the boards nine seconds into the game, and Timonen left the ice hunched over before eventually returning. "I didn't actually know what happened," Kunitz said. "One of the coaches mentioned he had kind of limped over to the bench. I was just trying to finish my check. You gotta grind it out and hit as many guys as you can. It's a long series, and it's going to be a hard-fought series. He played the rest of the game, and he played well. We have to keep getting pucks behind them and work their 'D.'"

Timonen update

• Timonen did not skate yesterday. He was given a day to rest and recover from a bruise to his left thigh suffered in the first shift of the game. Timonen turned away from Kunitz after making a pass in order to avoid a hit, but exposed his leg to Kunitz's knee instead. Timonen skated immediately to the bench and missed a few shifts but played the rest of the game hindered by the bruise. He is expected to play tonight. Flyers coach John Stevens said Timonen "probably could have skated. I think he's going to be fine," Stevens added.

Staal tactics

Penguins center Jordan Staal was such a presence in Game 1 that he was named the No. 1 star even though he had just one assist.

Staal was asked yesterday if that had happened to him before. "Not too often," he said. "It's obviously nice to be recognized. I had a good game, I guess. I felt like every chance that I was out there I tried to create something, make something happen." Staal won 11 of 14 faceoffs (79 percent) and had four shots and two hits while playing "more or less" against Flyers center Jeff Carter's line. Pens center Sidney Crosby was matched mostly against Flyers center Mike Richards' line. "They're obviously going to get the matchups they want most of the time," as the home team, Stevens said. "They've got the luxury of having Staal, who's really blossomed into a really strong, big, two-way forward they can play in virtually any situation. I thought he had a strong game (Wednesday) night."

Record night

FSN Pittsburgh's broadcast Wednesday night was the network's ninth-highest rated Penguins playoff game of all time. The broadcast also topped Fox's "American Idol" and CBS' "CSI: New York."

Death in the family

• Flyers defenseman Randy Jones left Pittsburgh on a family emergency. Jones' grandmother died, and he went home to be with his family. Genearl manager Paul Holmgren said Jones would be back for tonight's game.



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