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Crosby says Penguins need a split in D.C.

by Adam Kimelman
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sidney Crosby knows the score.

Add a loss tonight (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS) to Saturday's 3-2 loss in Game 1 and the Pittsburgh Penguins will be halfway to elimination at the hands of the Washington Capitals.

So, Crosby says the plan for Game 2 is amazingly simple.

"We want to make sure we get the split here," Crosby said, "so you'll see a desperate hockey team."

Overall, the Penguins were happy with their Game 1 efforts, but also realize they have more to offer.

"I thought we did some good things," Crosby said. "Our power play is something we want to make sure we improve on, but five-on-five I thought we did a good job, so we just want to build off that.

"We managed the puck pretty well,” Crosby continued. “There were a few times we made some poor decisions that hurt us, but other than that I thought our focus on just playing the races and getting pucks deep and not turning it over -- they're a dangerous team off the rush, so just trying to limit that, I thought we did a pretty good job and we'll try to continue that."

"There're areas we think we can get better in, execution-wise and focus-wise, and we have addressed those and we've seen video and we've tried to execute that way in practice," coach Dan Bylsma said. "We did a lot of good things. I think we know what to expect from this team. They're a good team, they're dangerous on the rush, dangerous with their skill players."

Bylsma said his team also needs to continue to test Caps rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov, who stopped 34 of 36 shots in Game 1.

"We put quite a few shots at him and he made some key saves," Bylsma said. "That's what you need from your goaltender (and) they got it. We need to concentrate on putting more pucks there. ... That's how you put younger players in tough situations, you put a lot of pressure on them and get them in situations where you can get pucks behind him."

Power play solution -- The Penguins' power play has been a hot topic because of how cold it's been. With their 0-for-5 outing in Game 1 against the Caps, the Pens have gone four games without an extra-man goal.

Coach Dan Bylsma is willing to try everything, including trying to convince the owner to make another comeback.

"We're trying to get some skates sized for him," said Bylsma when asked about Mario Lemieux's presence role with the organization.

While that won't really happen, Bylsma has made one change to his power play. Bill Guerin, who had been with the second group, switched places with Chris Kunitz, where he joined Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin up front, with Sergei Gonchar and Kris Letang on the points. The second unit now features Jordan Staal and Kunitz up front, with Gonchar and Mark Eaton on the point. Petr Sykora and Miroslav Satan rotated as the third forward.

"Anytime you haven't been successful in doing something you have to make changes, shake it up a little, make them adjust what they're doing," Kunitz said. "It's something you have to work through -- get pucks to the net and do the small things right."

Letang said the focus has been on making simple plays rather than trying to be too perfect.

"We did some video and we just try to play it simple," he told "Sometimes we just have to read what they're doing and make the simple play. Through the video we see we can make easy pay and make simple plays to gain the zone. ... Try to beat someone one-on-one, you can't do that anymore against really good teams. You have to play behind their (defense) and play it smart."

Wingers wanted -- Of the Penguins' 20 postseason goals, only five have from their wingers; as a comparison, they have five goals from defensemen.

Bill Guerin and Tyler Kennedy lead the wingers with two goals each, but both of Guerin's goals came in Game 2 of the first round. Ruslan Fedotenko is the only other winger to score a goal. For the Pens to win, they'll need more from their non-centers up front, including Chris Kunitz.

Crosby-Ovechkin Gear Alex Ovechkin Gear Sidney Crosby Gear "You want to do more, help out more, but you can't get outside what you can do," Kunitz said. "My game is straight lines, finish checks, be offensive, put pucks on net, maybe shooting a little bit more. ... You try not to stray away from what you're doing and make sure you're doing everything right, but you have to put pucks on net, you have to go to the net and make sure you're bearing down when you have those chances."

That's just what coach Dan Bylsma wants to hear and needs to see -- and not just from Kunitz.

"I think we had opportunities to score in different situations," Bylsma said. "Chris Kunitz had a lot of pucks in and around the net, he needs to continue doing that, needs to continue to go there. Ruslan Fedotenko and Petr Sykora had a two-on-one, made a nice play, put one on the goalie and it was a good save. We had a two-on-one with Staal and Tyler Kennedy. Those are situations you need to continue to get in order to score goals. When you don't get those situations you start to worry. We had our opportunities."

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