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Conference Final

Penguins finally get secondary scoring in Game 5 win against Senators

Third line of Nick Bonino, Bryan Rust, Carter Rowney helps Pittsburgh take 3-2 series lead in Eastern Final

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Fortunately for Nick Bonino and the Pittsburgh Penguins, Bonino's drive to PPG Paints Arena on Sunday morning was not an omen for how the rest of their day would go.

Bonino's truck broke down on the way to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Ottawa Senators and teammate Phil Kessel had to pick him up on the side of the road.

"All of a sudden the gas didn't work and the power steering went out in the middle of the highway," Bonino said. "I was able to get it to the side, and great teammate Phil Kessel came and picked me up."

 

[RELATED: Complete Penguins vs. Senators series coverage]

 

The Penguins had relied heavily on their "Big Three" of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kessel to drive the offense in the first four games against the Senators, but finally got some secondary scoring in a 7-0 victory in Game 5.

Bonino, who had no points in his previous six games, had two assists and teamed with Bryan Rust (one goal, one assist) and Carter Rowney (three assists) on a third line that produced seven points.

The Penguins also got goals from forwards Matt Cullen and Scott Wilson and defensemen Olli Maatta and Trevor Daley.

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm5: Cullen finishes Streit's slick feed

Crosby (one goal, one assist), Kessel (one goal, one assist) and Malkin (three assists) did their part as usual, but it was big difference from the first four games of the series when they were the only Penguins forwards to score goals. Seven different Penguins scored on Sunday.

"We were able to put shifts together and build that momentum and force mistakes, that kind of thing," Crosby said. "That's the kind of hockey we like to play. It's not always going to result in seven goals, but it's going to result in getting that momentum that's so important."

Depth scoring was one of the keys to the Penguins' run to winning the Stanley Cup last season. The third line of Carl Hagelin, Bonino and Kessel carried them at times last season, but with Hagelin not playing his best after returning from a lower-body injury and Bonino also struggling at times, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan hasn't used them together much during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm5: Sullivan on his team's complete effort

With Malkin and Kessel playing together most of the time on the second line, Sullivan had been searching for another third line that would produce offense and finally found one Sunday by putting Rust, who returned after missing two games because of a lower-body injury, with Bonino and Rowney.

"It makes our team so much more difficult to play against when we get the production throughout our lineup like we did," Sullivan said. "We had seven different goal-scorers. [It helps] when [Bonino's] line chips in the way it did offensively [Sunday], not just with goals, but I thought their puck possession, their puck-pursuit game was really strong, chasing pucks down, chasing defensemen down, forcing their defensemen to have to make plays under pressure, then creating their offense off of an errant pass or a potential loose puck."

Before Sunday, Rowney had no points in 11 games in the playoffs after getting three goals and four assists in 27 regular-season games with the Penguins. By 1:54 into the second period of Game 5, he had assisted on goals by Rust, Wilson and Cullen to help the Penguins build a 5-0 lead.

"I think our line has created some chances," Rowney said. "It's kind of a matter of time, I felt like. If you keep doing the right things out there, hopefully some chances will capitalize and you'll get your opportunities."

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