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Havlat gets hat trick; Pens tie club record

2/22/2004

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Penguins have lost more games
in a row than any team in NHL history. What they don't have is the
record to prove it.

Martin Havlat scored three goals, two late in the game during a
four-point day, and the NHL-leading Ottawa Senators ran
Pittsburgh's winless streak to a club record-tying 18 straight by
winning 6-3 Sunday.

Milan Kraft and Ryan Malone scored in the second period as
Pittsburgh tied it after trailing 2-0 and 3-1, but the Penguins
still lost their 18th in a row (0-17-0-1) -- the most ever by an NHL
team. The streak won't make the record book because of an overtime
loss Feb. 14 in St. Louis; the record 17-game streaks by the
Capitals (1975) and Sharks (1993) included only regulation losses.

"If you start looking at that, you'll lose focus," defenseman
Brooks Orpik said. "You can get so caught up in it, it becomes a
distraction. I'm just disappointed that we keep making the same
mistakes over and over."

The Penguins did extend their record home losing streak to 14,
three more than any other team in NHL history. Their 18-game
winless streak is 12 off the league record of 30 by Winnipeg in
1980-81, but ties the team record set when they went 0-17-1 from
Jan. 2-Feb. 10, 1983.

Ottawa overcame a mid-game lapse to take first place in the
NHL's overall standings with 81 points, moving past the idle Red
Wings, Flyers and Maple Leafs, who have 80 points apiece.

"It's tight and it will be right to the end," Senators coach
Jacques Martin said. "It is a logjam."

Chris Neil put Ottawa back into the lead at 4-3 by jamming the
puck past Jean-Sebastien Aubin during a scramble in front of the
net late in the second period, helping the Senators remain unbeaten
in regulation over their last nine games (6-0-1-2). Havlat scored
twice in the final 3:33, including an empty-net goal with 14
seconds remaining.

Malone put a hard hit on Havlat after that, and Penguins coach
Eddie Olczyk yelled toward Ottawa's bench as the game ended,
causing both teams to hang around the ice for a few extra seconds.
The Penguins were upset because Havlat camped out at the blue line
and wasn't involved in the defensive end before scoring into the
empty net.

"Everybody knows we're losing games," Orpik said. "If that's
the way he wants to get a hat trick, good for him. He can think
anything he wants to think. The way he went about it, that was his
choice, but it will catch up to him sooner or later."

Havlat insisted he was more concerned about getting the two
points for the victory than a 24th goal for himself.

"We had a quick lead, 2-0, but we had problems with
concentration the whole game," he said. "The last time we played
them (Jan. 22), we were up 6-3 but they came back and had a pretty
good chance to tie in the last seconds. We did a much better job at
the end this time."

After Ottawa's three-goal first period, Kraft made it 3-2 early
in the second with his 12th goal and Malone tied it at 17:05 with
an excellent move, skating around Jason Spezza by faking as if he
would shift the puck from forehand to backhand as he accelerated
across the blue line.

Characteristically for the Penguins during their longest losing
run in their 37-year history, they gave up the go-ahead goal just
over a minute later as Aubin couldn't prevent Neil from pushing the
puck across the goal line off a Peter Bondra rebound. The officials
didn't immediately signal a goal, but video replays clearly showed
the puck crossing the line.

"The puck was just lying there and I just kind of kept whacking
at it until it went in," Neil said. "I saw it cross the line and
that's when I stopped whacking."

Antoine Vermette, Havlat and Chris Phillips scored in the first
for Ottawa, which finished 2-1-1 against Pittsburgh. Havlat
assisted on Phillips' third goal of the season.

Game notes
Ottawa, the NHL's highest-scoring team, has outscored
Pittsburgh, the league's lowest-scoring team, 206-125 for the
season. ... Ottawa backup goalie Martin Prusek made 23 saves to
improve to 12-4-2. ... The longest losing streaks in the other
major pro sports were by the Phillies (23 games in 1961); the NBA's
Cleveland Cavaliers (24 games over two seasons ending in 1983); and
NFL's Chicago Cardinals (29 games through 1945). ... The Penguins
recalled LW Matt Murley from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) and
returned RW Eric Meloche to the team.