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5 Keys: Senators at Penguins, Game 5

Ottawa looks to reverse fortunes on power play; Pittsburgh playing with patchwork defense

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

SENATORS at PENGUINS

3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports

Best-of-7 series tied 2-2

 

PITTSBURGH -- Neither the Pittsburgh Penguins nor the Ottawa Senators have been able to string together consecutive wins through four games in the Eastern Conference Final.

The Senators would like that trend to continue with a win Sunday, which would give them a 3-2 series lead heading back to Ottawa. Meanwhile, the Penguins will look to reverse the trend and win a second consecutive game by building off of a 3-2 victory in Game 4.

Here are 5 keys for Game 5:

 

1. Penguins' patchwork defense

In two of the past three games, Pittsburgh has played with five defensemen after one of their regulars left with an injury. The Penguins have won each of those two games.

But the victories were costly.

In Game 2, defenseman Justin Schultz sustained an upper-body injury. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Schultz remains day-to-day and could return Sunday, but he did not dress.

Pittsburgh lost defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to a concussion in Game 4. He will not play in Game 5, Sullivan said Sunday. Mark Streit took his place.

 

2. Senators need more from their power play

The Senators were 0-for-4 on the power play Friday and have failed to convert on any of their 11 chances in the series.

Other than Game 3, when they scored five goals in a 5-1 win, the Senators haven't had much 5-on-5 success either. Because of their system, which employs a 1-3-1 forecheck designed to slow and frustrate the opponent, the Senators can only increase their chances by opening up their game.

But that would go against their identity. They could stay true to their defensive style if they convert on the man-advantage.

"Every series, you need one game where your power play gets you the game," coach Guy Boucher said Saturday.

 

3. More from Sidney Crosby

The Penguins were reminded of how impactful center Sidney Crosby can be when he had two points (one goal, one assist) in Game 4. That was probably Crosby's best effort since he sustained a concussion against the Washington Capitals in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round.

If Crosby can have a repeat performance Sunday, it would greatly increase Pittsburgh's chances of winning a second straight game.

"I think you just make sure that you go out there and compete," Crosby said.

Video: PIT@OTT, Gm4: Crosby slides home power-play goal

 

4. Consistency

The Penguins were pleased with their win Friday and don't feel the need to change much entering Game 5.

Despite losing, the Senators feel the same. Boucher and his players expressed confidence in their ability to rebound from a one-goal loss.

While there could be a few adjustments, the Penguins and Senators will likely look for more of the same in Game 5.

"I don't think there's adjustments to be made, to be honest with you," Boucher said.

 

5. Another solid outing for Matt Murray

Controversy surrounded the Penguins' goaltending situation entering Game 4, before and after coach Mike Sullivan announced Matt Murray would replace Marc-Andre Fleury. Murray quieted some of the skeptics by making 24 saves in his first start since April 6.

Murray can't afford to take a step backwards after that one strong start. Considering how well Fleury played through the first two rounds and into the conference final, Murray will need to continue to perform to solidify his position as Pittsburgh's undisputed starting goalie.

Video: PIT@OTT, Gm4: Murray stretches for great toe save

 

Senators projected lineup

Zack Smith -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau -- Mark Stone

Viktor Stalberg -- Kyle Turris -- Mike Hoffman

Clarke MacArthur -- Derick Brassard -- Bobby Ryan

Ryan Dzingel -- Tommy Wingels -- Tom Pyatt

Marc Methot -- Erik Karlsson

Dion Phaneuf -- Cody Ceci

Fredrik Claesson -- Chris Wideman

Craig Anderson

Mike Condon

Scratched: Chris Kelly, Chris Neil, Colin White, Jyrki Jokipakka, Christopher DiDomenico, Ben Harpur, Chris Driedger

Injured: Mark Borowiecki (lower body), Alexandre Burrows (leg)

 

Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby -- Chris Kunitz

Scott Wilson -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Bryan Rust -- Nick Bonino -- Carter Rowney

Carl Hagelin -- Matt Cullen -- Josh Archibald

Brian Dumoulin -- Ron Hainsey

Olli Maatta -- Trevor Daley

Ian Cole -- Mark Streit

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Oskar Sundqvist, Cameron Gaunce, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Derrick Pouliot, Daniel Sprong, Dominik Simon, David Warsofsky, Frank Corrado, Kevin Porter, Garrett Wilson, Tom Sestito, Tristan Jarry, Sean Maguire, Conor Sheary

Injured: Kris Letang (upper body), Justin Schultz (upper body), Patric Hornqvist (upper body), Tom Kuhnhackl (lower body), Chad Ruhwedel (concussion)

 

Status report

Boucher said Borowiecki and Burrows might be able to play later in the series. ... Hornqvist, Rust and Schultz are game-time decisions, Sullivan said. Kuhnhackl is day-to-day but hasn't played since May 8.

 

Who's hot

Karlsson leads all defensemen with 15 points (two goals, 13 assists) in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He has seven points (one goal, six assists) in his past six games. … Kessel has three points (one goal, two assists) in his past three games. He is tied for third on the Penguins with 16 points (six goals, 10 assists).

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