Lemieux Won't Let Bad Back Stop His Streak

From Associated Press

Oh, his aching back.

Lower back pain has caused Pittsburgh Penguins star Mario Lemieux to wear a brace and to curtail his practice time, but it won't cause him to sit out any games--at least not while he has a 42-game scoring streak.

The lower-back problem is chronic and has nagged him before, but never as much as this season. Lemieux said the problem is getting "worse and worse" and has been a "gradual thing over the last couple of months."

Lemieux is trying out a brace he hopes will alleviate the problem, which has persisted during the second-longest scoring streak in National Hockey League history. The Kings' Wayne Gretzky, then of the Edmonton Oilers, had a 51-game scoring streak in 1983-84.

"Right now, I'm trying to do the best I can do out there," Lemieux said. "I just want to see what happens with the brace. I want to see if I can skate with it."

Lemieux also may consult the California back specialist who treated San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana two years ago. The Edward DeBartolo family owns both the 49ers and Penguins.

Lemieux said a few games off would help the back, but he won't rest himself while the streak continues.

The Penguins haven't exactly prospered during Lemieux's streak, going 20-20-2 entering Tuesday night's home game against the Patrick Division-leading New York Islanders.

But Penguins Coach Craig Patrick said the streak hasn't been a distraction to the rest of the team.

"Mario is very likely to get a point in each and every game under any circumstances, streak or no streak, so the fact he's chasing a really remarkable record should not upset the team," he said.

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