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NHL Lemieux leads Penguins victory



Published: Tue, February 11, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



He had four assists as Pittsburgh snapped a four-game losing streak over the Bruins, 5-2.

BOSTON (AP) -- Mario Lemieux should have fond memories of playing in Boston.

Lemieux had four assists to become the 10th player in NHL history with 1,000 in his career as the Pittsburgh Penguins broke a four-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Bruins on Saturday afternoon.

Just like his first NHL game, Lemieux posted a milestone against the Bruins.

In his very first shift, Lemieux scored a goal on his first career shot at the old Boston Garden on Oct. 11, 1984.

"First goal. First assist," Lemieux said of that game. "It's a nice place."

Alexei Kovalev and Steve McKenna each had two goals for the Penguins, who were coming off an embarrassing 6-0 loss at home against Florida on Thursday. In that game, Lemieux was ejected after fighting.

On Saturday, the Bruins only wish he could have gotten thrown out early.

Gets 1000th assist

Lemieux set up Kovalev's first goal and McKenna's second.

"It's nice," he said of assist No. 1,000. "It's only numbers though."

Joe Thornton had both of Boston's goals.

"There's no player in the league like him," Thornton said of Lemieux. "With Mario coming back and [Johan] Hedberg coming back, we knew they'd come out flying."

With the win, the Penguins improved to 16-54-6 lifetime in Boston.

Pittsburgh goalie Johan Hedberg returned after missing 14 games with a fractured collarbone and made 26 saves.

The Penguins jumped ahead 1-0 on McKenna's power-play goal 46 seconds into the second period.

"It was certainly disappointing the last couple of games," Lemieux said. "We wanted to play hard for 60 minutes. That was important for us."

Kovalev beat goaltender Jeff Hackett with a backhander from in close after a nice feed from Lemieux, making it 2-0 midway into the period.

Bruins battle back

Thornton's wraparound goal cut it to 2-1 at 11:51 of the period, but Randy Robitaille broke in alone off the ensuing faceoff to slip a wrist shot by Hackett just 14 seconds later.

After that, the Penguins coasted to the win.

"They probably got a tongue-lashing after the last game," Hackett said. "We knew they'd come out and have energy. We just didn't respond."

Kovalev's second goal of the game made it 4-1 when he fired a slap shot by Hackett.

Thornton answered with his second goal with 1:05 left in the period, cutting it to 4-2. McKenna's second goal made it 5-2 in the third period.

The Penguins had fallen behind 3-0 in their last two games.

"We came out flat the last couple of games," McKenna said. "We happened to get the first goal. Then the second goal, and ran with it."

In the closing minute of the game, a number of fights broke out.




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