Skip to main content



Penguins alter lines ahead of Game 2

Sullivan says shuffling based on who gives team best chance to win against Tampa Bay

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- The Pittsburgh Penguins altered three of their four lines during practice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex on Sunday.

The Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning play Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final at Consol Energy Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"The criteria is, which guy is going to give us the best chance to win," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "It's as simple as that. Do we take into consideration a player's body of work? Yes. … At the end of the day, the criteria boils down to just that, is which group of guys is going to give us the best chance to win."

Patric Hornqvist moved from center Sidney Crosby's line to right wing alongside center Evgeni Malkin.

Bryan Rust replaced Hornqvist to Crosby's right with Conor Sheary staying at left wing. Eric Fehr, Malkin's right wing in Game 1, moved to the fourth line with center Matt Cullen and right wing Oskar Sundqvist.

The Penguins third line of center Nick Bonino, left wing Carl Hagelin and right wing Phil Kessel remained intact.

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm1: Hornqvist nets Crosby's nifty feed

Forwards Chris Kunitz and Tom Kuhnhackl were absent, allowing Sundqvist and Beau Bennett, who skated on Malkin's left wing, to enter line rushes. Sullivan said Kunitz and Kuhnhackl each took a maintenance day.

The moves come after Pittsburgh had one goal on 35 shots -- 26 of which were on 21-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy -- in a 3-1 Game 1 loss Friday. Tampa Bay leads the best-of-7 series 1-0.

Crosby has not scored a goal in his past eight games since scoring in three of four games against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round.

"You can't really explain it," Crosby said. "You have opportunities or you have crisp chances where the puck doesn't seem to bounce that way and there's no real great explanation for it."

Sullivan said the lines Sunday might not be indicative to what the Penguins use in Game 2.

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm1: Vasilevskiy moves left to deny Crosby

The defense was also tweaked in practice. 

Defensemen Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin were paired two days after each left Game 1 with apparent injuries. Letang returned later in the first period after being hit into the boards by Lightning forward Ryan Callahan. Dumoulin was unable to return after receiving a hit from Tampa Bay forward Ondrej Palat.

Dumoulin said he could have played in the latter stages of Game 1 if there was more time remaining. Sullivan said he expects Dumoulin to be available Monday.

"You're always concerned after a hit like that," Dumoulin said. "I want to play as much as I can, so it's good that it's nothing serious."

Letang said he never lost consciousness Friday.

The Penguins could scratch defenseman Olli Maatta, who skated on a fourth pairing with Derrick Pouliot, in Game 2.

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm1: Killorn gets free and beats Murray

Maatta, who missed three games in the second round against the Washington Capitals in the second round with an upper-body injury, fell while attempting to defend a stretch pass from Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman 1:14 into Game 1, which led to Alex Killorn's opening goal. Since returning from a lower-body injury on April 13, Maatta has been demoted from Pittsburgh's top defensive pairing with Letang to playing alongside Trevor Daley.

Maatta has missed 85 games, including eight in the playoffs, because of injuries in the past two seasons.

"I don't think that's an excuse," Maatta said. "I think you just have to be ready every time you go."

Defenseman Ben Lovejoy replaced Maatta next to Daley; defenseman Justin Schultz skated on a third pairing with Ian Cole.

Rookie goalie Matt Murray will start Game 2. He made 17 saves in Game 1 and has allowed three goals in each of the past three games (1-2).

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.