Fans follow Penguins into enemy territory
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
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."
- 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.
"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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