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Penguins Report: Sabourin Stays Sharp

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Dany Sabourin made 35 saves in Pittsburgh’s 2-1 shootout victory over the Boston Bruins on Monday. Sabourin was sharp in net despite the fact that he hasn’t played a regular season game in nearly eight months.

“He was outstanding,” head coach Michel Therrien said.

Sabourin made crucial saves throughout the game and stopped four players in the shootout to get Pittsburgh the extra point.

“I was not surprised to see him (play) that way (Monday),” Maxime Talbot said. “He was definitely great out there. I think he got the win for us. He was the best player out there.”

Sabourin hadn’t played in a game since Feb. 21, a 5-4 win over the Canadiens in Montreal. Despite the long layoff, he shook off any rust early as the Bruins tested him with a few quality scoring chances in the first period.

“I was comfortable with my game,” said Sabourin, who made 16 saves in the first period. “Right off the bat I had some good chances and good shots to make sure I was on top of my crease and challenging those guys as much as I can. It felt pretty good the rest of the way.”

“He got forced into things pretty quickly and did a great job,” Sidney Crosby said. “He did a great job to weather the storm for us. He played really well.”

Sabourin keeps focus in between starts by treating each practice as if it were a game.

“Practice is really important,” he said. “You practice just like you’re playing a game. When you don’t play a game you have to do your routine just like you’re playing. Get yourself ready no matter what.”

Sabourin re-signed with Pittsburgh last year and entered the season as Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup. When Fleury suffered an ankle injury, Sabourin was thrown into the No. 1 role. However, Ty Conklin’s stellar play relegated Sabourin to the backup role again. When Fleury returned, Sabourin became the third option.

However, the Penguins coaching staff had so much confidence in Sabourin that they let Conklin leave in free agency

“With Dany, we always liked him, first of all as a backup with Marc-Andre,” Therrien said. “Dany ended up being the No. 3 guy, but it’s not because we weren’t satisfied (with him) being the backup. It was just the way that Conklin played. You have to show respect to what the players do for your team.”

Sabourin showed that the team made the right choice on Monday with a great performance.

We saw with Sabourin, who hasn’t played in a long period of time, is still capable to perform when he got in. - Michel Therrien
“You have to give him a lot of credit,” Therrien said. “He came into camp in great shape with a lot of things to prove to himself. Give a lot of credit to Gilles Meloche who made sure he’s preparing his goalies really well. We saw with Sabourin, who hasn’t played in a long period of time, is still capable to perform when he got in. It’s good for Dany.”

So when will Sabourin get that next start?

“I don’t know,” Sabourin said. “That’s not under my control. I have no idea.”

Defenseman Hal Gill was the only Penguins player to miss practice on Wednesday. His status for Thursday night’s game against Carolina is unknown.

“We’re not quite sure if he’s not going to be there,” Therrien said. “It looks like (he won't play) but we’ll see more tomorrow. If he’s not going to be there we’ve got Darryl Sydor to jump in. We’ll see tomorrow.”

Gill has played alongside Rob Scuderi this season. If Gill doesn’t play, the Penguins will have to alter their defensive pairings.

“We’re going to have to adjust if Gill’s not there,” Therrien said. “Let’s wait until tomorrow and we’ll see how Gill is feeling, and we’ll make those decisions tomorrow.”

Brooks Orpik believes that any reshuffling of the defensive pairings should be an easy transition.

“It shouldn’t be too big a hurdle,” he said. “We mixed and matched a lot of the pairings during the preseason so everyone is pretty familiar with each other.”

Orpik did note that the Penguins defense will not be the same without Gill, who is 6-foot-7 and 250-pounds, in the lineup.

“We lose a little speed with Gill out of the lineup, that’s about it,” he joked.

Matt Cooke returned to practice for the first time in a week. An undisclosed injury forced him to miss three consecutive games. Cooke hasn’t practiced or played since Oct. 14 against Philadelphia.

It feels great getting back out there. You feel a part of the team. - Matt Cooke
“It feels great getting back out there,” Cooke said. “You feel a part of the team. When you’re skating by yourself, it is tough mentally and pretty boring.”

Cooke’s status for Thursday’s game against Carolina is unknown.

“We’ll take it day by day,” he said. “I’ll push it a little harder each day and part of that process is getting back out with the team. We’ll see how it is tomorrow morning.”

Crosby has been battling a sinus-infection since last Saturday. Despite being under the weather, he has compiled five points (1G-4A) in two games.

“It is what it is,” Crosby said of his condition. “I just hope it goes away soon.”

At the rate that he’s scoring with the sickness, maybe it would be best for him to keep it.

He said it: Crosby on the atmosphere in the locker room:

"It's pretty normal now. I think our new faces feel pretty comfortable. We have a great group of guys here."

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