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Penguins Rally To Tie Oilers


Despite the loss of yet another key player, the Pittsburgh Penguins are hanging tough.

Robert Lang ended a 21-game goal drought midway through the third period to help the Penguins salvage a 2-2 tie with the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night in a game that cost them their fourth key player in three days.

Defenseman Darius Kasparaitis, the Penguins' toughest physical presence, hobbled off the ice with a strained right knee in the second period. He'll be evaluated Monday but the preliminary diagnosis isn't good.

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  • "It's bad enough that's there's no way he's playing for a while," coach Kevin Constantine said.

    The Penguins are already without No. 1 goalie Tom Barrasso for four to six weeks. He broke his right wrist stopping a shot in Wednesday's 4-4 tie with Montreal. Their best defenseman, Kevin Hatcher, broke his foot in practice on Thursday and will miss three to four weeks. Martin Straka, who leads the team with 30 goals, bruised a shoulder in Wednesday's game against Montreal and did not play on Friday.

    "That's an amazing slew of injuries," said Constantine, who then turned the situation into a challenge.

    "There's opportunity there," he said. "There are some guys who log a lot of ice time for us and that has to go to other people. People should be excited about it. You sit on the bench all year and every player would love to play about 10 more minutes. This is the chance."

    The Penguins got so desperate Friday that Alexei Kovalev, one of their most talented forwards, took some shifts on defense.

    "I don't mind playing there," Kovalev said. "As long as I get ice time."

    Goalie Bob Essensa stopped 34 shots as the Oilers improved their unbeaten streak to 3-0-2, including 2-0-1 on their current seven-game trip. Essensa made 16 saves in he third period, including five during a four-minute Pittsburgh power play late in the period. He stopped three more shots in overtime.

    "He played a (great) game," Edmonton coach Ron Low said. "He was the reason we ended up with a point."

    The Penguins are winless in four (0-2-2), but unbeaten in overtime this season at 5-0-9.

    Kasparaitis was injured when his leg became tangled with Edmonton forward Bill Guerin along the boards.

    Lang scored his 19th at 8:53 of the third. Kovalev worked the puck out of the corner and Lang lifted a shot past Essensa for his first goal since Jan. 16.

    Edmonton's Pat Falloon broke a 1-1 tie on a power play at 11:46 of the second with his 15th goal. Falloon was in the high slot and one-timed a pass from Alexander Selivanov.

    Jiri Slegr gave Pittsburgh the lead on a power play at 5:30 of the first period, beating Essensa from 40 feet for his third goal. That broke the Oilers' streak of 23 successful penalty kills.

    Roman Hamrlik tied the game at 13:34 of the first as an Oilers power play was expiring. Hamrlik took Todd Marchant's pass and put a 50-foot shot past Peter Skudra.

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