Pivonka's ribs hurt, but he'll play tonight


Washington Capitals center Michal Pivonka says he will tough it out tonight in Philadelphia, injured ribs or no injured ribs.

"I have not had an X-ray," he said. "I do not plan to have an X-ray. It doesn't matter what an X-ray shows. I feel OK. I will play, no matter what an X-ray shows."

Pivonka took one of defenseman Al Iafrate's slap shots -- a shothat has been measured at 105 mph -- in the ribs Saturday during a 4-1 loss in Hartford. He said yesterday he feels a twinge when he twists his body for a shot, but refuses to believe one or more ribs may be broken.

The Capitals will not be at full strength even with Pivonka in thlineup.

Center Dale Hunter, who is recovering from a partially torn medial collateral ligament, is a few days away from returning, and right wing Peter Bondra, who seemed nearly ready to return from a broken hand last Friday, is day-to-day.

"He still has some discomfort," said coach Terry Murray. Asked if he could see the discomfort during yesterday's practice, Murray said, "No." But he added that he could see that Bondra "is not shooting a hard slap or wrist shot. I could see that. "

As for Pivonka, Murray said, "He practiced a full hour without problem, so I think he is OK."

The Caps, whose offensive defensemen often are stymied bneutral-zone traps, could certainly use Pivonka's improving offense, and Bondra's, to exploit the Flyers' defense, 23rd in the NHL.

Hunter improves

Murray speculated Hunter could be in the lineup as early as Thursday against the New York Rangers, the team that put Hunter out of action one game after he had returned from a 21-game suspension.

Rookies to keep playing

Rookie defenseman John Slaney and rookie center Kevin Kaminski will remain in the lineup tonight and probably Thursday. Murray said he wants to play Slaney against some of the tougher NHL forwards.


Opponent: Philadelphia Flyers

Site: The Spectrum, Philadelphia

Time: 7:30

TV: Channel 20

Radio: WITH (1230 AM), WMAL (630 AM)

Outlook: One night, the Capitals have an 11-2 romp over the Ottawa Senators. The next a 4-1 stinker at Hartford. Tonight, they play Philadelphia, which is 1-5-1 in its past seven but nine points ahead of last season's pace. Washington played a solid game in Philadelphia last week and won, 4-2. But tonight, the Flyers will have Eric Lindros in the lineup. After missing five weeks, Lindros has played three games in four nights and reportedly was tired after Sunday night's 4-2 loss at New Jersey. Philly is 1-1-1 since his return. Washington reports RW Peter Bondra (broken hand) is day-to-day. The Flyers will be without D Ryan McGill (sprained left wrist) and LW Dave Trippett (broken left foot), and rookie LW Mikael Renberg (left hip flexor pull) is day-to-day.

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