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Fans follow Penguins into enemy territory

By Rob Rossi and Tricia Lafferty,
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
 

Patches of Penguins fans inside RBC Center Saturday for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final were identifiable by replica team sweaters and Terrible Towels — a traditional good-luck charm for the reigning NFL champion Steelers.

Prior to Game 4 tonight, former Steelers coach Bill Cowher will sound the pre-game siren, as he did for Game 3 in two previous Stanley Cup playoff series.

Cowher, a Crafton native who won Super Bowl XL with the Steelers in 2006, is now a resident of Raleigh, N.C.

Ziggy practices

Penguins C Mike Zigomanis, a faceoff specialist, practiced Monday for the first time in six months. His shoulder was injured Dec. 3 in a game at the New York Rangers, and he underwent surgery in mind-January.

"I was supposed to be out six months, and I'm on the ice in four, so I can't complain," he said yesterday, adding that his shoulder was not at 100-percent strength, but otherwise "felt great."

Also healthy

Penguins D Sergei Gonchar said he has some extra incentive for wanting to wrap the Eastern Conference final with a win tonight. He'd like some rest for his injured right knee, still strengthened by a thick brace because of a knee-on-knee collision with Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin on May 8 in a second-round contest. Gonchar has averaged 20 minutes and 30 seconds per game in this series.

Making comparisons

Carolina C Eric Staal on how his importance to the Hurricanes compares to Penguins Cs Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby: "I don't think that's unfair. That means that my name is in a similar mix to theirs on a different team. That's a good feeling for any offensive player. I'm counted on to score goals and counted on to produce offensively. I didn't score 40 goals for no reason. I know what I can do."

Moving up

Crosby (third at 1.41) and Malkin (fourth at 1.32) rank in the top five in all-time PPG for players to appear in at least 40 playoff contests. With 25 playoff games each before this postseason, Crosby was at 1.28 and Malkin at 1.04.

Talkin' trash

Hurricanes G Cam Ward on if he's been critiqued too harshly for his Eastern Conference final performance — a .874 SV percentage (14 goals allowed on 111 shots): "I don't know; what have you been saying about me• Who's been talking the trash• I'll take it. I can hold myself accountable just like anybody else here. I know that I can perform better in this series."

Digits

- 11 — Combined plus/minus rating of Hurricanes C Eric Staal and LW Ray Whitney in the Eastern Conference final. Penguins Cs Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby have recorded a plus-9 rating in the series.

Quotable

"Surprised• We put ourselves here, you know. So we've just got to — we know what we've got to do. We've got to dig ourselves out, take it one game at a time. Just be excited to play. Know what's at stake, and the opportunity we have in front of us." — Hurricanes RW Chad LaRose on his club's 3-0 deficit in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final.

 

 
 


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