BUFFALO, N.Y. – Penguins’ opponents consistently have complained that referees give Mario Lemieux preferential treatment.
Lemieux strongly disagrees.
‘If there’s a borderline call, we don’t get the call because of my situation with the owners (that he is one of them),’ Lemieux said. ‘So, I think it’s been the opposite. In the Washington series, if you look at the tapes and you look at every game, it’s very clear that if there’s a borderline call, it goes against us.’
Lemieux’s linemate, Jaromir Jagr, expressed disbelief when told that some people think he and Lemieux get too many breaks.
‘Me also?’ Jagr said. ‘What are you talking aboutâ¢ That’s what they’re sayingâ¢ They didn’t watch the games, probably. That’s the way they feel, I can’t do anything about it. I play the game.’
Jagr said it’s tough for anybody to draw penalties in the playoffs.
‘The referees let almost everything go, and if you have a power play, of course you’re happy about it,’ he said.
Buffalo Sabres forward Steve Heinze hopes his team’s depth will show over the course of the series.
‘If we can get some hits in and play a style they’re not used to, maybe we can tire them out,’ Heinze said. ‘Time will tell.’
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff likes to roll four lines. Penguins coach Ivan Hlinka, who normally uses three, got his fourth line of Rene Corbet, Josef Beranek and Ian Moran in the mix early last night.
‘We’re going to have to make up a fourth line and have them play at least 6, 7, 8 minutes a game and give us a chance to have some juice at the end,’ Lemieux said.
Jagr said the Penguins can match the Sabres in depth.
‘We have four good lines who can play defense and four good lines who can play offense,’ he said. ‘Most of the time, we play only three lines, but we can put the fourth line on the ice anytime, and they’re very dangerous. Anytime they’ve played, if they had one shift or two, they had some scoring chances.’
Jagr came into last night’s game with an NHL-best 14 career goals against Dominik Hasek.
‘I was just lucky,’ Jagr said. ‘God was on my side.’
Asked if he enjoys playing against Hasek, his former Olympic teammate, Jagr said, ‘You don’t have a choice. You have to play against him if you want to go to another round.’
There were empty seats at HSBC Arena last night. The biggest reason for that was ticket prices, some of which were bumped up 86 and 89 percent from regular-season prices. … Lemieux smiled when he was asked if he travels with the team. ‘No,’ he joked. ‘I have a big suite, and I charter back and forth.’ … In contrast to the Washington Capitals, who tried to keep Penguins fans away from the MCI Center, the Sabres flashed a message on the scoreboard welcoming Penguins fans and management.