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Kennedy, Vitale staying in Penguins' lineup

by Chris Adamski

PITTSBURGH -- Tyler Kennedy will be keeping his spot in the Pittsburgh Penguins' lineup when the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Ottawa Senators opens Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NBCSN).

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said it's not just because of Kennedy's inspired play late in the previous round, either.

During the morning skate in advance of Game 1 Tuesday, Pittsburgh showed the same line combinations and defense pairings it did during practice Monday. That means the only apparent change from the lineup Bylsma employed for victories in Games 5 and 6 of the first-round win against the New York Islanders is Deryk Engelland in for Simon Despres on defense.

"It's not just what happened in the first round for our team and the players who played in the first round when it comes to our lineup and the decisions we make," Bylsma said.

Kennedy had a goal and an assist in playing the final two games against the Islanders after being a healthy scratch for Games 1-4. That's more than he had been a healthy scratch over the past three seasons combined.

It was clear, though, that Kennedy and center Joe Vitale provided the Penguins a spark when they were inserted into the lineup in place of Beau Bennett and Jussi Jokinen. Vitale had an assist and won 14 of the 20 faceoffs he took.

Bylsma said Kennedy would have been playing Game 1 of the conference quarterfinals if the Penguins had opened against the Senators.

"Tyler's a player who's had a lot of success against Ottawa and played well against Ottawa," Bylsma said.

Engelland played in 42 of 48 regular-season games and was in the lineup for the first two games of the Islanders series until Brooks Orpik returned from injury.

Per the pairings in practice Monday and at Tuesday's morning skate, Douglas Murray will be Engelland's partner, with Matt Niskanen being reunited with Norris Trophy candidate Kris Letang.

"Everybody's got to stick to what they do well and play your game, but I think knowing who your partner is and what he likes to do, you've got to read off each other," Niskanen said. "I've been here for three seasons now, so I know what [Letang] likes to do and I've played with him some and just reading off him and knowing what he's going to do with the puck or where he's going to be in a certain situation, that can give you an advantage in your positioning.

In goal, the Penguins will start Tomas Vokoun for a third straight game.

Here is how the Penguins' lineup likely will look for Game 1 (click here to see the Senators' projoected lineup):

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Jarome Iginla

Pascal Dupuis - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal

Brenden Morrow - Brandon Sutter - Matt Cooke

Craig Adams - Joe Vitale - Tyler Kennedy

Kris Letang - Matt Niskanen

Paul Martin - Brooks Orpik

Douglas Murray - Deryk Engelland

Tomas Vokoun

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Beau Bennett, Robert Bortuzzo, Simon Despres, Mark Eaton, Tanner Glass, Eric Hartzell, Dustin Jeffrey, Jussi Jokinen

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