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.

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.