ARLINGTON, Va. -- When it comes to containing Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom gets a lot of the credit, but he's only part of the equation.
Crosby has an assist in each of the past two games after being held scoreless in the first three games of the Eastern Conference Second Round. Pittsburgh's top line of Crosby, Conor Sheary, and Patric Hornqvist has combined for two goals and seven points against the Capitals.
Backstrom has played an integral part in limiting Crosby, and defensemen Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzner have seen a large amount of ice time against Crosby's line.
"I think the Alzner and Niskanen group is paired up a lot against Crosby, and with [Backstrom] there I think it adds to a real strong threesome that can contain a very dynamic player who's up for the MVP this year," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.
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Washington will have to continue to shut down Crosby's line in Game 6 at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). The Penguins lead the best-of-7 series 3-2.
Backstrom had seven points in the first round against the Philadelphia Flyers and helped limit Flyers leading scorer Claude Giroux to one point in six games.
He has two points in five games against the Penguins.
As far as keeping Crosby off the scoresheet, it's not exactly a secret as to what any one defending him needs to do. Limiting his time and space is key because Crosby can do a lot with even a little bit of room.
Crosby's tendencies are well known, Niskanen said, but it doesn't make his job any easier.
"There's some things that he likes to do, but I think everybody's watched him for the last 10 years," said Niskanen, who was a teammate of Crosby's for four seasons. "I think our forwards have done a pretty good job of being above him, even in their end, so he can't generate his speed through neutral ice. Really it's about pressure in the right areas and having good stick position."
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Just because Crosby isn't showing up on the scoresheet as much doesn't mean he's not playing well. Because of that, sometimes there's not much a defender can do.
"All you have to do is do your best to try and stick on him as tight as you can and pick up his stick," Alzner said. "And when he has the puck make sure you pick up the other guys because there's not much that you can do against a guy like that. He still makes plays and so you have to pick up the other guys and hope that they can't receive the puck. You just do your best against him."