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Penguins' Letang returns for Game 5

Pittsburgh knows fourth win against Washington will be toughest to get

by Katie Brown / Correspondent


Eastern Conference Second Round

Penguins lead best-of-7 series 3-1

TV: 7:15 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Pittsburgh Penguins need a win to advance to the Eastern Conference Final. But they know getting the fourth win against the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Second Round will be their toughest task of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Penguins enter Game 5 at Verizon Center on Saturday with a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

"We know the elimination game is always the most difficult to get," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said after an optional morning skate at Verizon Center on Saturday. "We're going to get Washington's best game and we have to have our very best game in order to win. We're going to have to play with a heightened intensity, a heightened sense of urgency. We're going to be at our very best and everybody has to contribute in order to help us get the result. Our players are very aware of that."

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will play after being suspended for Game 4 because of a hit on Capitals forward Marcus Johansson in Game 3.

Sullivan said forwards Eric Fehr and Bryan Rust will be game-time decisions. Fehr missed Game 4 because of an undisclosed injury.

"I feel great," Fehr said. "I fully expect to be in the lineup tonight."

Rust did not skate Friday but said Saturday that he's ready to play.

"I'm a little banged up, but the more time the better," he said. "When I get a chance I rest, and when I've got to play, I've got to play."

Goalie Braden Holtby was not present at the Capitals' optional skate Saturday here at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, but coach Barry Trotz said all players are available for Game 5.

That means Capitals forward Mike Richards, who missed practice Friday and did not skate Saturday, is a possibility to play.

Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt will return to the lineup after he was scratched for Game 4.

"It's a great opportunity for us," Trotz said of Game 5. "We have our backs against the wall. There's no margin for error. I always think from a coach's standpoint you get to see the best of your players. You get to see your true players. So we'll find out what we're all about tonight, that's for sure."

Here are the projected lineups:


Conor Sheary - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - Eric Fehr

Carl Hagelin - Nick Bonino - Phil Kessel

Tom Kuhnhackl - Matt Cullen - Bryan Rust

Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang

Justin Schultz - Trevor Daley

Ian Cole - Ben Lovejoy

Matt Murray

Jeff Zatkoff

Injured: Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion), Kevin Porter (ankle), Scott Wilson (lower body), Olli Maatta (upper body)

Scratched: Oskar Sundqvist, Beau Bennett, Derrick Pouliot


Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Mike Richards - Marcus Johansson

Daniel Winnik - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Dmitry Orlov - John Carlson

Nate Schmidt - Taylor Chorney

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Injured: None

Scratched: Mike Weber, Stanislav Galiev, Michael Latta

Suspended: Brooks Orpik

Status update: Maatta skated Saturday morning but will not play in Game 5. He's been out because of an upper-body injury sustained on a hit by Orpik in the first period of Game 2.

Who's hot: Hornqvist has three points in his past two games. … Carlson has four points in his past four games.

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