Lemieux has goal, two assists in Pens' victory


PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Martin Straka showed why Mario Lemieux thinks
he's the perfect player to skate as his left wing.

The speedy and talented Straka set up Lemieux's 11th goal of the
season and turned two of Lemieux's passes into goals as the
Pittsburgh Penguins scored four second-period goals in a 4-1
victory over the San Jose Sharks.

"He's an important part of our line,'' said Lemieux, whose
three-point night increased his league-leading total to 41. "He
creates a lot of room out there with his speed. That's why for me,
he's the best guy to play on the left side.''

Alexei Kovalev, Lemieux's right wing, also had an assist as the
Penguins snapped a seven-game winless streak (0-6-1) against San
Jose. Marc Bergevin also scored for Pittsburgh, which hadn't beaten
the Sharks since Oct. 22, 1997.

Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin made 24 saves, including 11 in
the third period when the Penguins established a team record by
failing to record a shot on goal. Teemu Selanne had the lone goal
for San Jose, which was playing its sixth game of an eight-game
road trip and had its three-game unbeaten streak stopped.

"We just didn't play physical enough against a team that likes
to play a wide-open game,'' San Jose's Vincent Damphousse said.
"We were flat.''

Straka, who replaced Aleksey Morozov on Lemieux's line shortly
after returning to the lineup from an off-season back injury, had
just one point in five previous games before figuring in on three
of the four goals Pittsburgh scored in a span of 11 minutes, 6

Lemieux, who has 47 points in 13 career games against San Jose,
scored the first goal at 7:06 when he got behind defenseman Jeff
Jillson to convert Straka's cross-ice pass. "I just sneaked behind
(Jillson), and Marty made a great play,'' Lemieux said. "He was

The Penguins increased their lead to 3-0 with goals 1:06 apart
while the teams skated four-on-four. Straka took a pass from
Lemieux behind the net and beat goaltender Evgeni Nabokov at 12:13
for his second goal of the season.

"I've been putting a little pressure on myself, because you
want to help the team,'' Straka said. "So I'm glad I got going
tonight. I think everything went my way, especially the first goal.
I'm not really sure how I put it in.''

Nabokov was pulled in favor of Mikka Kiprusoff after Bergevin's
wrister from the blue line floated over Nabokov's shoulder at
13:19. But the Sharks weren't about to blame Nabokov for the loss.

"You've got to outwork the Penguins, and we didn't do a good
job,'' Mike Ricci said. "We left our goaltender out to dry.''

Pittsburgh's top-ranked power-play unit produced the next goal
at 18:12, as Kovalev passed to Straka to create another two-on-one
break. Straka used Lemieux as a decoy before scoring on a

Game notes
San Jose did not get a power-play chance. ... The Penguins
scratched Randy Robitaille, Josef Melichar (shoulder) and Michal
Rozsival (shoulder). San Jose scratched Todd Harvey and Shawn
Heins. ... San Jose's Patrick Marleau failed to score for the first
time in seven games. ... The victory was the Penguins' first at
home against San Jose since Nov. 21, 1996. ... The Sharks are
2-2-1-1 on their long road trip. ... Pittsburgh's Dick Tarnstrom,
the league's leading scorer among defensemen, had one assist to
give him 21 points in 19 games.