|Penguins G Conklin stays hot outdoors, improving to 5-0 this season|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 01 January 2008 14:31|
Called up from Wilkes-Barre-Scranton of the American Hockey League on Dec. 6 after Penguins starter Marc-Andre Fleury was injured, Conklin has yet to lose in five starts after securing Pittsburgh's 2-1 shootout win over Buffalo in the NHL Winter Classic outdoor game on Tuesday.
Conklin has allowed 13 goals in six appearances this season, and held the Sabres to one goal in two games, following a 2-0 shutout against Buffalo at Pittsburgh on Saturday.
``We were pretty discouraged when we lost Fleury,'' Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. ``Certainly, he's playing at a level that gives us a chance to win. ... He made some key saves in overtime.''
On Tuesday, Conklin finished with 36 saves, including seven in overtime.
He hasn't lost an NHL game since he was with the Sabres, a 4-3 loss at Philadelphia in Buffalo's regular-season finale on April 8.
Conklin also upped his record to 1-1 in NHL outdoor games. Playing for Edmonton, he allowed four goals on 27 shots in the Oilers' 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in the league's only other outdoor game in 2003.
``Yeah, it feels a lot better after a win than it does after a loss,'' Conklin said. ``But certainly, just to be a part of it, I think everybody's got to feel pretty privileged.''
MILLER STAYS HOT, TOO: Sabres goalie Ryan Miller found an intriguing way to stay warm during the long breaks between shots and lengthy stoppages when officials tended to the ice.
Miller inserted heat pads in his skates to keep his feet warm.
``I had little heaters underneath the footpads on my skates,'' Miller said. ``Well, not heaters, but you know what I mean - the hunting version. So I felt pretty good.''
Miller had plenty of time to stand around particularly in the second period, when he faced only two shots.
SYDOR SEES MORE: With the heavy snow that fell for the majority of the first period, Penguins defenseman Darryl Sydor decided to ditch his visor during the intermission.
``The snow would fall on it and it would get real wet,'' Sydor said. ``It was easier to just go without one. There were a few guys that took them off. But it was just one of some of the adjustments we had to make.''
On the other hand, Penguins forward Colby Armstrong, who opened the scoring 21 seconds in, didn't have to make many adjustments. The snow that collected on the ice during the game didn't bother him.
``I'm not much of a puck-handler, so I just pushed it ahead with my shovel and just kept it going,'' Armstrong said with a wink. ``Other than that, a little wax on the tape so the snow doesn't stick: I think that's the only adjustment I had.''
FANCY NEW DUDS: Lindy Ruff and his coaching staff looked sharp behind the bench, sporting new varsity jackets, with the Sabres' old logo - a buffalo above crossed swords - on the chest.
The jackets were unveiled just for this game and proved to be a hit with Ruff, a former Sabres captain, who wore the old uniform during his playing days.
``You know, it's always good to put the blue and gold on when you wore it for as long as I wore it,'' Ruff said. ``I put that jacket on with pride today.''
The NHL liked the jacket so much that it plans to make a version of it available for sale on its Web site (www.NHL.com) starting Wednesday.
CAPTAIN SPACEK: Jaroslav Spacek's throwback Sabres sweater had a neat little addition to it, the captain's C.
As they have all season, the Sabres continued to rotate the captaincy. Since the Winter Classic fell on New Year's Day - the first day in January - it was time to pick someone new.
December's captain Brian Campbell led the team onto the ice Monday for practice at Ralph Wilson Stadium, but it was Spacek who had an alternate's 'A' traded up to 'C.'
``I found out just before practice. I was a little shocked,'' said the defenseman, in his second season with Buffalo. ``It's nice and something to be proud of. It's just a letter, but sometimes when you finish your career you can say you once had it.''
The teams took a spin on the ice in their game jerseys Monday, and then posed for a team photo before changing into traditional practice garb.
``It's nice to be able to look at the pictures and see the 'C' on my jersey,'' he said.
ICE CHIPS: If history is a guide, the Sabres might have trouble rebounding from the loss. The Oilers had won four straight before their loss in the Heritage Classic, and then went on a 0-4-1 skid. The Sabres are already slumping, having dropping to 0-2-2 in their past four. ... The Sabres were the last NHL team to take part in a shootout this season. But three of their past five games have now been settled by shootouts, going 1-2. ... The Penguins improved to 3-4-1 in games played on New Year's Day, with their last win coming in 1983 against the New York Islanders. ... With an assist, Sidney Crosby extended his point streak to six games (one goal, nine assists).
AP Hockey Writer Ira Podell contributed to this report.