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Pens' Conklin conquers Sabres again

By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, January 2, 2008

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - Ty wanted the win.

That was evident in watching Penguins goaltender Ty Conklin, who beat his former team for the second time in four days Tuesday at the Winter Classic.

Conklin stopped 36 shots, not including 2 of 3 in the shootout, in a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

"You're back to .500 in outdoor games," goaltending coach Gilles Meloche told Conklin, who was the losing goaltender when he played for Edmonton in the NHL's only other outdoor game, the Heritage Classic four years ago.

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Conklin improved to 5-0 since he was recalled from Wilkes-Barre. He has stopped 62-of-63 shots against Buffalo.

"I'm happy for him," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I'm not happy he did it to us the last couple of games, but I'm not surprised ... and I think he had added incentive. Let's not kid ourselves."

Conklin thrived in the charged-up atmosphere.

"It seemed like a carnival," he said. "It was great."

Contingency plans

Had the game been stopped, it would have been considered "official" only after two periods. The team leading would have been declared victorious and received two points. If the game was tied at the time of a stoppage, each team would have been awarded a point and a shootout would have immediately taken place. Had the elements made that scenario impossible, a shootout would have been held prior to the Penguins-Sabres game Feb. 17 in Buffalo. Both teams' officials were aware of changes to the game format weeks ahead of time, though the NHL did not make them public until the days and hours leading up to the game.

Pingpong

Sidney Crosby made an incredible advance into Buffalo's zone in the first period, whacking the puck three times in mid-air and chasing it down. "He's playing a little pingpong," NBC analyst Eddie Olczyk said. Said Crosby: "It's sometimes easier to play the puck up there than having to drag it through a lot of snow."

Fan appreciation

Because of the Steelers' playoff game Saturday night, the Penguins' home game that day against Florida has been moved to 3 p.m. from its original start time of 7:30 p.m. To make the time change, the Penguins needed approval from the NHL, its players association and the Panthers.

Old Pens days

Ex-Penguins players (and at least one coach) were all over the press box yesterday. Among them: NBC analyst Eddie Olczyk; CBC analyst Greg Millen; Penguins radio analyst Phil Bourque; Matthew Barnaby; CBC analyst Craig Simpson; and Dave Hannan.


Digits

11,500 - Fans inside HSBC Arena in Buffalo watching the television broadcast on the scoreboard.

33.1 - Temperature in Fahrenheit at opening face-off.

30 - Flags atop the upper decks of Ralph Wilson Stadium bearing the emblems of every NHL team.

24:23 - Game-time between shots by the Penguins from the first through second periods

11 - mph winds at the opening faceoff.

3 - Stoppages in play, one each period, for Zambonis to clear ice.

3 - Toques worn by Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller, one during each period with separate logos of the Winter Classic, the throwback "Crossing Sabres" logo and an unidentified charity.

2 - Penguins co-owners at the game: Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle.

Joe Starkey can be reached at jstarkey@tribweb.com or 412-320-7810.
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