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5 Keys: Capitals at Penguins, Game 3

Secondary scoring a must for Washington when series shifts to Pittsburgh

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- The Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins play Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series at Consol Energy Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1.

Here are five keys for Game 3:

1. Crosby vs. Ovechkin: All the attention before the start of the series was on Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin meeting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time, but neither player has made a statistical impact so far with their lines playing head to head. In the first two games Crosby had no points and four shots on goal, and Ovechkin had one assist and seven shots on goal.

That's notably different from their meeting in the second round of the 2009 playoffs. Ovechkin had eight goals and six assists and Crosby had eight goals and five assists in that series, which the Penguins won in seven games. It's only a matter of time before each of them break out.

2. Kuznetsov and Williams: The Penguins have demonstrated their scoring depth with their third line of Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino and Carl Hagelin combining for three goals in the first two games and the second line of Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin and Eric Fehr scoring twice, including Fehr's winning goal in a 2-1 victory in Game 2. 

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm1: Murray stones Williams' great chance

The Capitals still are looking for some production from their second line as Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams have no even-strength points in the playoffs. Capitals coach Barry Trotz tried replacing Andre Burakovsky with Marcus Johansson at left wing on the line to try to get Kuznetsov and Williams going but it has yet to pay off.

"We're going to break through here and we're going to break through because of our perseverance, our hard work and because of our second effort, not because we're waiting for it to happen," Williams said Monday. "We're going to have to go make it happen."

3. Nothing special: The Capitals have had the edge in special teams play, killing off all seven Penguins power plays, including five in Game 2, and going 1-for-6 on the power play. After going 8-for-21 with the man-advantage in defeating the New York Rangers in five games in the first round, the Penguins have been having trouble getting shots through to goaltender Braden Holtby and dealing with the pressure of the Capitals penalty kill (30-for-31 in the playoffs).

Making quicker decisions with the puck might help them get more open looks.

"They're a good [penalty kill]," Kessel said. "You watch them and they block a lot of shots, they get in the [shooting] lane, they don't let you get a ton of pucks to the net and they've got a good goalie. So we've got try to try get more pucks there and create more secondary chances."

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm2: Maatta shaken up after hit

4. Missing Maatta: Although Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta struggled in Game 1, the 21-year-old is an important part of their top four on defense, averaging 18:42 in ice time per game. So his absence because of an upper-body injury he sustained on a hit from Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik in Game 2 is a significant one for the Penguins. 

With Maatta out, indications Monday morning were that Derrick Pouliot, 22, will take his lineup spot and play in his first Stanley Cup Playoff game, but Penguins coach Mike Sullivan would not say whether Pouliot or Justin Schultz will get the call.

"The reality is we've relied on all of these guys down the stretch to help us win," Sullivan said. "[Pouliot] is one of them. The criteria that we used when making lineup decisions is which guy we think is going to help us on a given night, depending on matchups we want or aspects of our game that we think their skill sets can fulfill our needs."

5. Orlov's second chance: The Capitals also need to make a change on defense after the NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Orpik for three games for his hit on Maatta. Dmitry Orlov will take Orpik's place after being a healthy scratch for Game 2.

Orlov played all 82 games during the regular season and the first seven of the playoffs, but he was scratched following a rough Game 1. Orlov will get an opportunity to rebound Monday.

Video: WSH@LAK: Orlov's backhand goal ties game

"I think [Orlov] will be fine," Trotz said. "All year when he's had a game or two when he's struggled, we stayed with him and he's bounced back with really good games. So I think [Orlov] knows there's good trust and I think he'll come in and play very well for us."

The Capitals have a lot of experience playing without Orpik, going 30-6-4 while he was out for 40 games during the regular season because of a lower-body injury, and playing the final three games of their first-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers without him because of an upper-body injury.

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