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Penguins quiet on adjustments for Game 4 against Islanders

Keeping leads, getting top line going among issues with Pittsburgh facing elimination

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are keeping quiet about any specific adjustments they plan to make for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the New York Islanders at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2, ATTSN-PT, MSG, MSG+).

"We've shown film and discussed areas with our players, that quite honestly, I won't share with you guys," coach Mike Sullivan said.

That film session came Monday after a practice originally scheduled for 11 a.m. ET and moved to 12 p.m. ET was canceled. The change came after a 4-1 loss to the Islanders in Game 3 on Sunday that leaves Pittsburgh trailing the best-of-7 series 3-0 and on the brink of elimination.


[RELATED: Complete Islanders vs. Penguins series coverage]


The Penguins, who averaged 3.30 goals per game during the regular season, have scored five in the first three games of the series. With practice canceled, any changes to their lineup or approach won't be known until at least Tuesday.

Sullivan did share he would like the Penguins to put the puck on net more without sacrificing discipline, designed to limit odd-man rushes they've given up early in the series.

"We knew going into this series that they were going to be low-scoring games," Sullivan said. "You look at the way the games have been played, there has been a real fine line between winning and losing in all of the games. There are areas of our game that we know where we can be better, that give us a better chance to win."

The Penguins have gone ahead 1-0 in each of the past two games. Those leads lasted a combined 3:17, which defenseman Brian Dumoulin knows can't remain the case moving forward.

"If we can carry a lead, I think that will definitely benefit us," Dumoulin said. "Focus on winning one game and not the series. ... It's funny, once you win one or two, the statistics start looking a bit better and the pressure stops, kind of, on us and turns to them."

Video: Breaking down the Islanders Game 3 win over Penguins

Maintaining a lead could be made easier if the Penguins score consecutive goals, which they haven't done. That can be partially attributed to the first line, particularly center Sidney Crosby and left wing Jake Guentzel, struggling to produce.

Crosby, who had 100 points (35 goals, 65 assists) this season, has been held without a point. His lowest point total in the Stanley Cup Playoffs came in 2015, when he had four (two goals, two assists) in five games against the New York Rangers.

Guentzel also doesn't have a point after scoring 40 goals in the regular season.

Crosby credited Islanders goalie Robin Lehner, who has a 1.62 goals-against average and .951 save percentage in the series.

"He's a big body. He takes up a lot of net," Crosby said. "I just think finding those second or third opportunities. If he sees it, he's most likely going to save it. So just finding a way to get to rebounds and fighting through that top area of the net to generate those second and third opportunities."

Evgeni Malkin and Justin Schultz lead the Penguins with three points, but Malkin has one assist in two games after scoring one goal and one assist in Game 1. Phil Kessel also had a goal and an assist in Game 1 but does not have a point since. Defenseman Kris Letang has one assist.

Sullivan, who won the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017 with those players, remains confident.

"I can tell you, as the coach of this group, that I believe in this group," Sullivan said. "These guys are capable of great things."

Crosby said he would like to be part of something great. He has been down 3-0 in the playoffs twice. The Penguins lost in six games after losing the first three to the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals and were swept by the Boston Bruins in the 2013 Eastern Conference Final.

"It's not the position you want to be in, but that being said, I'd love to be a part of a team that comes back from that," Crosby said.


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