Penguins

Kovacevic: Penguins breathe fire right back

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- There's something about the hockey soul that savors, that celebrates what the men inside the sport simply call "a good hockey game."

When they cite the phrase, they do it with spirit.

They do it with respect.

They do it with ... I guess you could call it reverence.

Who won and who lost, in the most genuine way imaginable, becomes secondary.

"That game had its own unique personality," Paul Maurice, the Jets' coach, was saying late Thursday night at MTS Centre. "Skating, speed, scoring, goaltending, heavy hits, lots of chirping on the benches ... it was a good battle ... fun to be a part of."

He then slightly smiled.

"I just liked that game."

And this was the guy whose team lost, 4-3 by shootout, to the Penguins.

"That was one well-played hockey game," Mike Johnston was saying in a near-echo down the hall. "If you look at it from an entertainment point of view, it had everything. It had physical play, it had speed, it had scoring chances, it had big saves, it had special teams with both teams doing well on the penalty-kill. ... I give Winnipeg a lot of credit. They came at us."

And this was the guy whose team won preferring to talk about the competition as a whole.

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