Pens star highlight of Curve loss

Pascal Dupuis returned to Peoples Natural Gas Field on Friday night.

Dupuis would like to return somewhere else – the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Penguins winger – one of the corner stones of Penguins’ Cup win in 2009 – feels the moves made in the offseason by Ray Shero and company will allow for that return trip despite last season’s playoff exit.

“We know how to win,” Dupuis, who shot the ceremonial first puck before 6,109 in the Curve’s 3-1 loss, said. “We’ve done it in the past. The group of guys that are in place right now are ready to win.”

Coming on the heels of what many considered an earlier-than-expected exit, Dupuis and the Penguins are ready to get back on the ice.

This time they won’t have to wait as long as they did last year. Instead of a lockout-delayed start and shortened season, Pittsburgh and the rest of the NHL will go back to the usual 82-game schedule in early October, meaning a quicker turnaround for both Penguins fans and players to forget an early playoff departure.

“The exit we had in the playoffs last year, it’s still in my head,” Dupuis said. “… You can tell Ray [Shero] did his job signing Kris [Letang], and keeping the core together.”

Shero also locked up Dupuis for another four more years in the offseason. The fourth year was something Dupuis said was important to him.

When Dupuis suits up in a Pens jersey on Oct. 3, he will have begun his seventh season in Pittsburgh, the longest amount of time he has spent with any team. He had six-year tenure with the Minnesota Wild when he first entered the NHL.

“It was big for me to get the fourth year,” the winger said. “Obviously we love it in Pittsburgh. We’ve been saying that all along. I wanted to come back, and it worked out. They gave me that fourth year. That was huge for me and my family.”

In his six seasons with Pittsburgh, the Penguins have gone from nearly moving to Kansas City to becoming one of the powers in the NHL. Now,another team located across the river from Consol Energy Center could be on a similar rise – the Pirates, minus possible relocation. Dupuis couldn’t be happier for them.

“They are doing great right now,” Dupuis said with a smile. “There were people who didn’t expect them to be where they are right now and it’s great to watch another winning team in Pittsburgh. The fans are definitely happy.”

Dupuis added he has been to a few games this year.

While most Pirates fans didn’t expect them to win, Dupuis says expectations are high for fans and players of the Pens.

“You try not to repeat the same mistakes you’ve made in the past,” he said. “At the same time, we expect to win. I don’t see why our goal is the same as it’s been in years before – to win the Stanley Cup.”

Game recap

Key player: Curve RHP Nick Kingham struck out eight, getting a no decision.

Key play: Aeros Jesus Aguliar singled, scoring two runs.

Key stat: The Curve are now 15 games under .500

How they scored

Bottom 2nd: Sanchez doubled, scored on a throwing error (1-0).

Top 8th: Abraham singled, Naquin walked, both scored on Aguliar single (1-2); Wallace singled, scored on an error (1-3).