<
>

Flyers hoping LeClair has no ligament damage

11/28/2002

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Pittsburgh goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin had a
good view of the NHL's top-ranked power play unit Wednesday night,
and even he was shaking his head.

"Our power play,'' said Aubin, "has been amazing.''

Mario Lemieux had three of his four assists on the power play as
the Penguins converted four of six chances to beat the slumping
Philadelphia Flyers 7-2 and tie the Flyers for first place in the
Atlantic Division.

Jan Hrdina scored a goal and added two assists and defenseman
Dick Tarnstrom set up three power-play goals as Pittsburgh won its
third consecutive game. The Pittsburgh power play has converted
32.4 percent of its chances this season and is 14-for-28 the past
six games.

It was the second straight blowout loss for the Flyers, who were
beaten 6-0 in Toronto on Saturday night.

"Five-on-five we played hard, played well,'' said Philadelphia
coach Ken Hitchcock, whose team has scored only 12 goals in a 1-4-4
slide. "But this game is won with skilled players, and when you
give a team with all these skilled players three power plays in the
first period, you'll be lucky to have a chance.''

The Penguins built a 2-0 first-period lead with power-play goals
from Martin Straka and Alexei Kovalev. To make matters worse for
the Flyers, they lost left wing John LeClair indefinitely to a dislocated right
shoulder late in the period.

LeClair, who has 11 goals and 17 points in 21 games, was injured
when he collided with Marc Bergevin and fell awkwardly into the
left wing corner of the Pittsburgh zone.

"If there is ligament damage, then we have something to worry
about,'' Hitchcock said. "We just have to pray that there is no
damage so that we can avoid surgery.''

Ville Nieminen, Aleksey Morozov, Janne Laukkanen and Dan
Lacouture also scored for the Penguins, and Aubin stopped 41 shots
to record victories in consecutive games for the first time since
March 2001.

After the Penguins missed the playoffs last season, few expected
Pittsburgh to be atop the division one quarter of the way through
the season.

"It's not March yet, but it's a good thing for us to build
on,'' said Nieminen, whose goal 43 seconds into the second period
gave the Penguins a 3-1 lead. "This game tells us something -- that
we can play with the top teams.''

Keith Primeau and Jeremy Roenick scored for Philadelphia.

"There are no excuses,'' Flyers defenseman Eric Desjardins
said. "We just have to play better. It's a long season, but we
have to make sure this (slump) doesn't drag on any longer.''

Morozov's goal at 4:47 of the second period knocked Flyers
starting goaltender Roman Cechmanek out of the game, and Robert
Esche allowed Laukkanen's shot from the left point to trickle past
him at 6:58.

After Roenick's ninth goal of the season made it 6-2 at 7:44 of
the third period, Lacouture converted Kovalev's pass at 12:47 and
Hrdina scored his ninth goal of the season at 17:27.

Game notes
Straka left the game in the first period with a strained
hamstring but could return to the lineup this weekend. Teammate
Shean Donovan suffered a stress fracture of his right foot late in
the game and is expected to be out for at least two weeks. ...
Pittsburgh is unbeaten in four home games against the Flyers
(3-0-1). ... The Flyers have allowed a power-play goal in 17 of
their 21 games. ... The Penguins scratched Randy Robitaille
(ankle), Josef Melichar (shoulder) and Michal Rozsival (shoulder).
... The Flyers scratched Chris Therien (back), Guillaume Lefebvre
and Pavel Brendl. ... This was the first meeting this season
between the Atlantic Division rivals, but the teams don't play
again until four matchups between March 15-31.