Ponikarovsky scores in Pens' Mellon debut
Alexei Ponikarovsky could breathe a sigh of relief late Saturday afternoon.
His 20th goal, which capped the Penguins' scoring in a 6-3 win over the Dallas Stars at Mellon Arena, was his first since Jan. 29 — a span of six NHL games over 35 days.
The goal also kept him from becoming the only scoring-line winger acquired by general manager Ray Shero during the trade-deadline period not to record a point in his first home game with the Penguins.
Add Ponikarovsky, acquired Tuesday from Toronto, to the list of wingers that took an early liking to Pittsburgh: Gary Roberts (a goal and two assists on March 4, 2007); Marian Hossa (a goal and an assist on March 16, 2008); Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin (each with an assist on March 10, 2009).
A 151st consecutive home sellout crowd vocally saluted Ponikarovsky after his power-play goal, scored from in front of the net, with 4:47 remaining in the third period against Dallas.
"It was a warm welcome," he said after mostly skating on a line with center Evgeni Malkin and winger Ruslan Fedotenko.
"In the first period, it felt like every shift was in their end. It was good hockey — going to the net, getting rebounds and getting your nose dirty."
Guerin's back 'a freak thing'
Guerin missed a second straight game because of an ailing back. He was a late scratch Thursday against the Rangers at New York after experiencing spasms that morning.
"Just give it some time ... but I honestly don't know (about a return date)," Guerin said, adding that he has not experienced back problems since the 2007-08 season while with the New York Islanders.
He also jokingly downplayed speculation that stiff beds at the Penguins' New York-area hotel contributed to his current state.
"I don't want to say anything," he said, smiling. "It's just a freak thing."
Sid chasing Mario
With two goals against Dallas, Penguins center Sidney Crosby extended his best single-season total to 44. He is the team leader in goals.
With only 38 assists, he is on pace to become the first Penguin since current majority co-owner Mario Lemieux to lead the team with at least 40 goals and more markers than helpers. Lemieux finished with 54 goals and 53 assists in the 1986-87 season.
Around the boards
Center Evgeni Malkin failed to extend his point streak to 16 games. That would have been a career-best. ... Reebok Canada has upped its reward for Crosby's lost Olympic gold-medal game glove and stick to $10,000. ... Coach Dan Bylsma said goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's status for a game today against Boston will be a game-time decision.
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