Hedberg stops 36 shots as Pens shut out Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Johan Hedberg stopped 36 shots. The

Pittsburgh Penguins earned a rare road win. And Mario Lemieux's

coming back this weekend.

Johan Hedberg stopped 36 shots to save the Penguins in their last game (they hope) without Mario Lemieux.
Johan Hedberg stopped 36 shots to save the Penguins in their last game (they hope) without Mario Lemieux.

Things are suddenly looking much brighter for the Penguins,

coming off Thursday's 2-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

"Every win is always a big plus. And as you guys know, the big

guy's coming back," Stephane Richer said, referring to Lemieux.

"It doesn't matter which way you look at it, the best player in

the world is coming back in the lineup. It should be a plus."

And just what the Penguins needed, having gone 11-17-4-0 without

their captain and owner in the lineup this season.

Lemieux, who's missed 24 games since undergoing hip surgery,

confirmed that he will return Saturday when Pittsburgh plays host

to St. Louis.

Richer provided all the offensive punch, scoring 46 seconds into

the game, allowing the Penguins to improve to their road record to


Pittsburgh's Randy Robitaille won a face-off -- beating Buffalo's

Curtis Brown -- to the right of Sabres net, and drew the puck back

to Richer, who shot it through Martin Biron's legs.

Robert Lang sealed the victory, scoring with 1:20 remaining.

In between, Hedberg did the rest as the Penguins snapped a

five-game road winless streak (0-3-2), and won for only the third

time in their last 14 games.

"It felt good from the start," Hedberg said, who recorded his

fifth shutout of the season. "We've been fighting back from behind

for pretty much the whole season. To get the first one on the

second shift, I think everybody got a boost from it."

Buffalo had a modest two-game winning snapped despite dominating

most of the play, outshooting the Penguins in each of the three

periods and 36-18 overall.

It didn't help that Hedberg was hot, and the Sabres couldn't buy

a goal.

The Sabres had one disallowed when a video review ruled that

Denis Hamel's stick was too high -- mere inches above the crossbar --

when he batted the puck out of the air with 2.7 seconds left in the

second period.

"I am looking forward to seeing the replay," said Hamel, who

wasn't entirely sure whether his stick was too high. "It's a tough

decision. They didn't allow the goal, so we have to live with it."

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff couldn't live with how his supposed

offensive stars came up empty.

"Some accountability has to fall on the guys who get to paid to

score goals," Ruff said. "You can talk about domination and

goaltending. You can talk about great chances.

"But I'd rather talk about goals."

Hedberg was stellar.

Less than a minute before Hamel's disallowed goal, Hedberg

blindly kicked out his right pad to get a piece of a shot from Stu

Barnes, parked directly in front of the net.

Barnes also missed an open net, banking a shot off the post in

the third period.

Hedberg's biggest save came four minutes into the third period

when he blocked Tim Connolly's one-timer from in close, and then

smothered Miroslav Satan's shot off of the rebound.

"Hedberg made unbelievable saves that kept us in, and we got a

few breaks at the right times," Penguins coach Rick Kehoe said.

"It started with the goaltender and right out.

Game notes
Hedberg tied Dunc Wilson for third-most shutouts by a

Pittsburgh goalie in a season. Tom Barrasso, now with Carolina, set

the record with seven shutouts in 1997-98. ... Penguins checking

line center Wayne Primeau will miss the rest of the season after

having reconstructive surgery on his left knee earlier in the day.

Primeau was hurt in Sunday's 2-0 loss at Chicago. ... Sabres RW

Maxim Afinogenov (flu) and D Rhett Warrener (sore right wrist) were

held out of the lineup.