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Penguins get out, push their way into Buffalo

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By Josh Yohe
Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009
 

BUFFALO — Penguins are generally comfortable in frigid conditions, but what took place Monday night in Buffalo crossed the line.

The defending Stanley Cup champions encountered a blizzard in Buffalo that buried the team's bus in snow three blocks from the Penguins' hotel. Coach Dan Bylsma and his staff, the Penguins PR department, the training staff and three players — goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, left wing Matt Cooke and defenseman Sergei Gonchar — managed to push the bus out of the deep snow and back onto the road.

"There were coaches, PR guys, Web site guys all out there," Penguins right wing Bill Guerin said. "They're the real strength of the team."

Just getting to Buffalo was quite an adventure for the Penguins. The team's plane left Pittsburgh on Monday afternoon and, after circling the Buffalo airport for an hour, was forced to land at the Niagara Falls airport.

Buses waiting for the team in Buffalo then had to make the trek to Niagara, which left the Penguins waiting on the runway for close to another hour. By then, the lake-effect storm that hit northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York had time to unleash around 6 inches of snow in Buffalo. The downtown streets hadn't been plowed or salted, making for a slick ride that eventually saw the bus wedged in snow.

"It was crazy seeing people outside in suits and ties trying to push a bus," Fleury said. "I just put my big biceps on the bus, and it didn't take long after that."

Cooke interpreted the situation differently. "I'm sure his intentions were good," Cooke said. "But I'm not sure he even touched the bus."

» Defenseman Mark Eaton returned to the lineup 10 days after injuring his knee in Buffalo.

» Defenseman Alex Goligoski and left wing Chris Kunitz played 24 hours after receiving a day off in practice.

» Right wing Tyler Kennedy returned to the lineup one game after being a healthy scratch. Right wing Ruslan Fedotenko and defenseman Martin Skoula were the team's healthy scratches.

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