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
``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
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.