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Big news is Satan, Boucher in, Sykora, Letang out

Thursday, 04.23.2009 / 1:38 PM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Quarterfinals

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PITTSBURGH -- Generally when a team wins in the playoffs, it sticks with the same lineup. The Pittsburgh Penguins, however, will have two new players in the lineup Thursday for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with the Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).

Miroslav Satan will replace Petr Sykora at right wing on the second line, and defenseman Philippe Boucher will be in for Kris Letang as Sergei Gonchar's partner.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said neither decision was an easy one, but at least in Sykora's case, it wasn't nearly as hard a call. The veteran forward played just 8:21 in Game 4, the second-fewest minutes on the team. He's scoreless through four games, with a minus-2 rating and six shots. Bylsma pulled him off Evgeni Malkin's line in Game 3 and the Pens ended up scoring a first-period goal. Sykora missed an open net from point-blank range on a first-period power play in Game 4.

"It's a difficult situation," Bylsma said. "You made the decision about Petr today with the coaches, but you make those decisions in every game. We're talking about this one because Petr was in and now is coming out."

Satan will play his first NHL game since March 3. He was waived and sent to the Pens' American Hockey League team, where he had 9 points in 10 games, and was recalled April 10, but hadn't played in a game.

Satan was signed this summer with the hope he could replace some of the offensive firepower lost when Marian Hossa and Ryan Malone left, but it never happened, as Satan finished with just 17 goals and 36 points in 65 games.

"Certainly we've talked to Miro about how the tendency is to want to do too much, to show with one opportunity, one puck, one play that you can add to the team," Bylsma said. "I think he's played enough games, he's professional enough ... he's  a true professional and he knows that just going out and playing his game, getting into the offensive zone, getting around the net where he can score goals and make plays will be what he concentrates on."

This also will be Boucher's first playoff game. He was acquired Nov. 16 from the Dallas Stars, but missed more than two months with a broken foot, and he's played just two games since Feb. 1. 

Letang hadn't played poorly, but after getting assists in the first two games of the series, he was scoreless and a minus-2 with nine penalty minutes in Games 3 and 4. It's the second straight season Letang will be a healthy scratch in the playoffs; he was benched for the final two games of last year's Stanley Cup Final.

"These are guys (Satan and Boucher) that we all believe can come in and play for us and do good things for us," Bylsma said. "The coach has to make those decisions. They're not easy ones, but I'm the guy who gets to make them."

Confident in the hole -- The Flyers did everything they possibly could to win Game 4 Tuesday night in Philadelphia -- except put the puck in the net.

That's why, despite being down 3-1 in the series, the Flyers are confident heading into a win-or-go-home Game 5. It's the same position they were in last year against the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals, but this Flyers group is far different.

"The difference is it's not like we're being out-played," forward Danny Briere told NHL.com. "Last year was a little different story; I don't think our morale was as good going into Game 5. This year (the series) could easily be 2-2 or 3-1 in our favor. That's just the way the game goes. We have to shore up in a couple areas, stay focused a few more plays and it could be the difference. That's why our attitude is a lot better."

One key will be not dwelling on how to beat Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped 45 of 46 shots in Game 4.

"It's frustrating to be sure," forward Joffrey Lupul said. "We were frustrated after the game and still frustrated yesterday, but now is the time that you turn the page. We've got to bear down on our chances. We talked today about how we have to keep playing the same way -- solid defense, make them turn pucks over and go attack. I think if we fire 46 shots again, if we get that again and lose, what can you do? I think for us more than just focusing on the offensive end, we're going to focus on the whole game and hopefully it leads to those chances."
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I might have blacked out. I was pretty pumped.

— New Jersey Devils rookie goalie Keith Kinkaid on his first NHL win Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning
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