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5 Keys: Penguins at Senators, Game 6

Erik Karlsson's health, special-teams battle among storylines to watch with Ottawa facing elimination

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent


8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series 3-2


OTTAWA -- The defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins can return to the Stanley Cup Final with a win against the Ottawa Senators in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final at Canadian Tire Centre on Tuesday.

The Penguins defeated the Senators 7-0 in Game 5 on Sunday. The loss was Ottawa's worst in its Stanley Cup Playoff history.

"You can see [Game 6] as an elimination game or you can see it as an opportunity," Senators coach Guy Boucher said. "We know what we chose."

The Penguins, who are seeking to become the first repeat champion since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and '98, are taking nothing for granted.

"We understand what we're up against," coach Mike Sullivan said. "We know we're going to get Ottawa's best game. We've got to make sure we bring ours. That's how we have to look at it."

Here are 5 keys for Game 6:


1. Erik Karlsson's health

Defenseman Erik Karlsson missed the last 4:05 of the second period and did not play in the third after falling and hitting his left foot on the ice during Game 5. He said after the Eastern Conference First Round he was playing with two hairline fractures in his left heel. 

"It was precautionary, nothing major and we're going to be good to go," Karlsson said. "It's not a setback or anything new. It's not going to be anything different from any other games."


2. Fresh start for Senators

Karlsson said moving past the one-sided loss in Game 5 hasn't been an issue.

"It's pretty easy," he said. "We know now that something that we're doing isn't working for us. We've had time to go over those things and reset. We lost in a way we didn't want to lose. But again, it also made us realize we have to do a lot of things a little different and we have to be a lot better. We're going to go out and do that tonight and execute it."

Video: Will the Senators bounce back in Game 6?


3. Cooling off Sidney Crosby

After being held without a point in the first two games of the series, Crosby has five points (three goals, two assists) in the past three games and is a big reason the Penguins have spent a lot of time in Ottawa's zone. The Senators are going to have to slow down Crosby if they are going to get to Game 7.

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm5: Crosby tips in Daley's shot for PPG


4. Senators must rediscover structure

The Senators' success this season has come from following their structured style of play, something that was missing in the Game 5 loss. The focus is getting it back for Game 6.

"It doesn't matter how you feel tonight," forward Clarke MacArthur said. "It doesn't matter what your intentions are. At the end of the day, you have to do what's right for the team tonight. It's blocking shots, making the little plays, frustrating the other team, finishing your hits, it's all those little things combined tonight that will give us our best chance."


5. Special teams

The Senators are 0-for-29 on the power play since Game 2 of the second round against the New York Rangers, including 0-for-15 in the series The Penguins are 5-for-14 in the series, including 5-for-8 in the past three games.

Video: Steve and EJ discuss the Sens' rough Game 5


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: Conor Sheary

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


Senators projected lineup 

Clarke MacArthur -- Kyle Turris -- Bobby Ryan

Mike Hoffman -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau -- Tom Pyatt

Zack Smith -- Derick Brassard -- Mark Stone

Viktor Stalberg -- Ryan Dzingel

Marc Methot -- Erik Karlsson

Dion Phaneuf -- Cody Ceci

Fredrik Claesson -- Chris Wideman

Ben Harpur

Craig Anderson

Mike Condon

Scratched: Tommy Wingels, Chris Kelly, Chris Neil, Colin White, Jyrki Jokipakka, Chris DiDomenico
Injured: Mark Borowiecki (lower body), Alexandre Burrows (lower body)


Status report

Boucher said he could go with seven defensemen again or put Kelly or White into the lineup. Ceci didn't play in the third period of Game 5, but Boucher said he's ready to go. ... Kuhnhackl, Ruhwedel and Hornqvist did not travel to Ottawa.


Who's hot

Kessel has five points (two goals, three assists) during a four-game point streak. Murray is 2-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and one shutout in two starts. …Ryan has three assists in his past two games and leads the Senators with five points (one goal, four assists) in the series.

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