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Race2Four: Ponikarovsky, Fedotenko sit for Game 5

| Sunday, May 9, 2010

Given their respective troubles in the playoffs, LW Alexei Ponikarovsky and RW Ruslan Fedotenko were good candidates to be a healthy scratch in Game 5 against Montreal.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma took things a step further, scratching both players.

Pleased with how C Mark Letestu has performed in this series, Bylsma opted to leave the rookie in the lineup.

Fedotenko was largely disappointing this season, scoring only 11 goals while registering a team-worst minus-17 figure.

Ponikarovsky has been almost completely ineffective since coming here in a March trade from Toronto. In 28 games with the Penguins - 18 in the regular season, 10 in the postseason - he has produced only three goals despite playing almost exclusively on Evgeni Malkin's line.

Bill Guerin and forward Mike Rupp returned to the lineup. Rupp missed Game 4 in Montreal with an undisclosed injury.

Hard hitter

In case there was any doubt that Montreal D Marc-Andre Bergeron possesses his team's hardest shot, he showed it off by breaking a pane of glass with a slap shot during the Canadiens' morning skate.


The other venue

About 10 Montreal players took in the Pirates' 4-3 loss Friday night at PNC Park. Montreal's leading playoff scorer, Mike Cammalleri, called the ballpark the "ultimate place to watch a ballgame."

Show of support

Montreal D Andrei Markov is out for the season with a torn ACL, but he made the trip to Pittsburgh for Game 5. He came to provide moral support for his team and because the organization wants him sticking close to the Canadiens' doctors, all of whom are with the team.

No big screen

The Penguins will not be showing Game 6 of the Montreal series on the big screen Monday night outside Mellon Arena because WWE's Monday Night Raw will be taking place at the arena that evening.

-- By Josh Yohe

Kevin Gorman's: CATCHING AN EDGE


The Montreal Canadiens have spent the majority of their Stanley Cup playoff run celebrating red-hot netminder Jaroslav Halak and a defense that has kept its opponents shooting from the outside.

The Penguins are counting on Bill Guerin to crash the party.

After missing Games 3 and 4 in Montreal with an undisclosed injury, Guerin returned to the Eastern Conference semifinal series Saturday night at Mellon Arena with the intention of camping out in the crease.

Guerin downplayed the significance of his net-front presence.

"I drive the net, try to stand in front when I can," he said. "There's been a lot of coverage about the goaltender stuff. We have to play our game. We can't just start focusing on Halak. He's playing great, but that can't be our focus."

Montreal is well aware of what Guerin brings.

"He's a pretty smart player with his net play," defenseman Ryan O'Byrne said. "You have to make sure you have position on him before the shot is taken because he's a pretty big, strong guy and once he's got position, it's pretty tough to stop him from getting those rebounds. If he wants to stand in front of the net, he makes life difficult."

Guerin, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound right wing, has three goals and eight points in eight playoff games, including a two-point performance (one goal, one assist) in the Penguins' 6-3 Game 1 victory over the Canadiens.

"The majority of time he's a net-front presence on the power play," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "He has been a playoff performer for us."

-- By Kevin Gorman


It's hard to believe that, less than two weeks ago, Montreal put the finishing touches on a remarkable penalty killing stretch in which it snuffed 32 of 33 Washington power plays. Although the Penguins' power play wasn't as potent as Washington's during the regular season, it has had no problem solving the Canadiens. The Penguins went 6 for 15 through the first four games of this series with the man advantage.


"They are two different kinds of power plays and obviously some of the stuff Pittsburgh has done has given us some trouble. We need to be better on the PK if we're going to win this series, no doubt about it."

-- Canadiens defensemen Hal Gill, comparing the Penguins and Capitals

Montreal hasn't enjoyed the same success killing penalties in this series:

Game 1: Penguins power play goes 4-4

Game 2: Penguins power goes 0-3

Game 3: Penguins power play goes 1-4

Game 4: Penguins power play goes 1-4


"I'm 100 percent, whatever that means. I'm normal." <-em>

-- Penguins RW Bill Guerin, pronouncing himself fit to play Game 5

"'Kuni' is a little shorter, but his butt is just as big."

-- Guerin, on LW Chris Kunitz, his net-front replacement on the power play

"Welcome to Pittsburgh, where we do not boo your gold-medal hero."

-- Sign posted on the roof of Mellon Arena's F balcony


The Penguins are 5-0 in playoff series under second-year coach Dan Bylsma, but have yet to clinch one at Mellon Arena. With home-ice advantage for the rest of the Eastern Conference playoffs, this could be Bylsma's chance to lead the Penguins to a series-clinching win at the Igloo:

Stanley Cup playoff round -- Opponent -- Series

2010 Eastern Conference quarterfinal -- Ottawa -- 4-2

2009 Stanley Cup Final -- Detroit -- 4-3

2009 Eastern Conference final -- Carolina -- 4-0

2009 Eastern Conference semifinal -- Washington -- 4-3

2009 Eastern Conference quarterfinal -- Philadelphia -- 4-3

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