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Penguins Report: Sabourin Gets Shot in Net

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Dany Sabourin will see his first action of the season Monday night against the Boston Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden at 7 p.m.

Sabourin posted a 10-9-1 record with a 2.75 goals against average and a .904 save percentage last season. He faced the Bruins once in his career as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, giving up two goals in a 2-0 loss on Dec. 21, 2006.

Matt Cooke did not make the trip to Boston and will miss his third consecutive game with an undisclosed injury.

Paul Bissonnette will play take his place on the fourth line with Mike Zigomanis and Eric Godard.

Sabourin's start will give Marc-Andre Fleury a chance to rest. One of the bright spots in the early part of the season has been Fleury's performance. The former No. 1 overall pick has a 3-2-1 record with a 2.42 goals against average and .924 save percentage. Fleury is leading the league in saves with 183 – 25 more than second-place Kari Lehtonen.

“Fleury was sharp at times; I like the way that he’s playing,” head coach Michel Therrien said. “He’s a guy we (have) a lot of confidence (in). That’s another young player. Sometimes you have to be patient with goalies. We certainly were patient with him.”

Fleury hasn’t lost a step from his late run last season, when he returned from a high ankle sprain to reclaim the starting goaltender job and lead Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup Final.

“He just kept up playing the same way that he played the second half, when he came back from the injury last year,” Therrien said. “He’s playing that same level. The experience that he got last year in the playoffs gave him the confidence that he needs, especially to start the year this year.”

Fleury so far has played in all six Penguins game this year. He is considered an elite goaltender in the league and possibly will get the bulk of the starts this season.

It’s not known if he will carry the load like a Martin Brodeur, who played in 70-plus games in 11 of the last 12 seasons. But Fleury certainly has that potential. So is the early workload tiring him out?

As long as the coach tells me I’m playing, I’ll be ready. - Marc-Andre Fleury
“No, I think you always want to play,” Fleury said. “I know I’m not going to play every game. We have a very good goalie in Sabourin. As long as the coach tells me I’m playing, I’ll be ready.”

The Pascal Dupuis-Sidney Crosby-Evgeni Malkin line had instant success in Saturday’s game against Toronto. The trio combined for two goals and six assists for eight points. The tandem also produced two five-on-five goals. The team had only one five-on-five goal in the previous four games.

Lost in the mix were the remaining line combinations of Tyler Kennedy-Maxime Talbot-Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko-Jordan Staal-Petr Sykora. While the top unit got most of the attention, Therrien believes that the other line combinations also showed progress.
“I like (the) Talbot line tonight with Satan,” he said. “I thought they were pretty good. Staal felt comfortable there as a center. He got some chances. You know it’s only a matter of time before that line will click.”

Part of the benefit for the new line configurations, according to Therrien, was to move Staal back to his natural position of center.

“He’s better as a center and with a top two-line player, somebody’s got to move,” he said. “Definitely Jordan is a better center man than a winger. He’s good (on) both sides of the ice, he’s smart, he can make plays, (Saturday night) he had a few scoring chances. If he keeps getting those chances, eventually the puck will go in.”

Therrien hasn’t committed to the current line combinations for the long term just yet but for the time being, he is sticking with what works.

“We’re going to keep going in that direction,” he said. “We’ll see down the road.”

Pittsburgh’s game against Boston will be the team’s first conventional road test. The Bruins will be geared up to play because the game will also be their home opener.

They’ll be fired up. We’ll be ready. I’m not worried about that. - Pascal Dupuis
“They’ll be fired up,” Dupuis said. “Obviously, it’s another challenge, another day, another game. Every home opener there’s always a long (ceremony) before the game. Obviously, they’ll be out there standing for a little while and we’ll be in the (locker) room. We’ll be ready. I’m not worried about that.”

The game at TD Banknorth Garden will have extra significance for Dupuis. It was in that arena that he made his Penguins debut and picked up a goal on Feb. 28, 2008, following his acquisition from the Atlanta Thrashers. 

“I played my first game with the Penguins against these guys when we got in last year,” Dupuis said. “I scored my first game. I have to drive to the net, and playing with these two guys (Crosby and Malkin) pucks are going to be there.”

After Monday’s game, the Penguins will return to host the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday before embarking on a lengthy four-game road excursion through Manhatten, San Jose, Phoenix and St. Louis. In fact, the Penguins will play six of seven game on the road after the Carolina matchup. But the Penguins are no strangers to travel.

“We’ve been on the road in Sweden,” Therrien said. “We figure they were road games for us. The next games, we’re going to play a lot of games on the road. This is where you build character - on the road.”

Jennifer Bullano contributed to this report.


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