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5 Keys: Penguins at Capitals, Game 2

Pittsburgh must improve puck possession; Washington confident goalie Braden Holtby will bounce back

by Katie Brown / Correspondent


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

Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series 1-0

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins play Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Verizon Center on Saturday.

Pittsburgh leads the best-of-7 series 1-0 after a 3-2 victory in Game 1 on Thursday. Center Nick Bonino's third-period goal gave the Penguins the win after the Capitals rallied from down two.

Here are 5 keys for Game 2:


1. Is Carl Hagelin ready?

The Penguins forward skated in a full practice Friday and will be a game-time decision. The return of the speedy Hagelin, who has not played since March 10 because of a lower-body injury, would give Pittsburgh a boost in several areas. He would make them more dangerous on the rush and gives coach Mike Sullivan another penalty-killer. The Penguins held an optional morning skate Saturday, so Hagelin's status is unchanged from Friday.

Video: PIT@CAR: Hagelin buries rebound at the doorstep


2. Special teams

Washington outhit Pittsburgh 41-17 in Game 1, but there were four minor penalties called and the Penguins got the only two power plays.

Sullivan would like more from his own power play but said the kind of discipline the Penguins showed Thursday is key against the Capitals.

"I think certain teams try to take certain threats away that our power play might present, and I think our guys have evolved in terms of taking what they give them and there are lots of threats on both sides," Sullivan said. "So it's a big challenge for our penalty kill. I think our discipline is very important, we did a great job in Game 1 of that. We have to continue in that vein."


3. Puck possession

Washington outshot Pittsburgh 35-21 in Game 1 and had an 83-41 advantage in shot attempts. Sullivan wasn't happy with the Penguins' puck management after they took a 2-0 lead on two goals by center Sidney Crosby in the first 1:04 of the second period.

"I don't think we controlled territory as well as we could have, especially in the second half of Game 1," Sullivan said. "The first half, we were pretty strong. I thought the second half, we could have done a better job with our pushback."


4. Braden Holtby

The Capitals goalie willingly shouldered the blame for the Game 1 loss and vowed to improve. Holtby allowed three goals on 21 shots, but coach Barry Trotz thought he played well despite Holtby's self-criticism and is confident he'll bounce back.

"He put a lot of stock into his game," Trotz said. "I think he took some of the blame, unnecessarily really. At the same time, I've seen him when he's like, 'I've got to be better,' he is better. And that's what I love about [Holtby] and what I love about top players: When they put the onus on themselves, you know they are going to come up with a good game."

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm1: Holtby blockers away Crosby's blast


5. 60-minute effort

The Capitals were dominant in the second half of Game 1, but they are looking for a complete effort, something they feel they haven't had in any of their seven playoff games.

"I think we can do a lot of things better," center Nicklas Backstrom said. "We really haven't had a 60-minute performance in the playoffs yet. Maybe it's time tonight. I think we've played good here and there. It's time for us to put a full game together."


Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby -- Patric Hornqvist

Bryan Rust -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Scott Wilson -- Nick Bonino -- Conor Sheary

Chris Kunitz -- Matt Cullen -- Tom Kuhnhackl

Brian Dumoulin -- Ron Hainsey

Olli Maatta -- Trevor Daley

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Marc-Andre Fleury

Tristan Jarry

Scratched: Mark Streit, Carter Rowney, Chad Ruhwedel

Injured: Matt Murray (lower body), Kris Letang (upper body), Carl Hagelin (lower body)


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Justin Williams

Andre Burakovsky -- Lars Eller -- Tom Wilson

Daniel Winnik -- Jay Beagle -- Paul Carey

Nate Schmidt -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Brett Connolly, Taylor Chorney, Chandler Stephenson

Injured: Karl Alzner (upper body)


Status report

Carey will make his playoff debut for Washington and replace Connolly on the fourth line. Connolly will be a healthy scratch. Alzner remains day to day.


Who's hot

Malkin has 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in six playoff games and leads the NHL in assists and points in the postseason. Crosby is second with nine points (four goals, five assists), and Kessel is tied for third with eight points (two goals, six assists). Guentzel leads all scorers with five goals. … Oshie is tied for third with eight points (three goals, five assists) in seven games. Williams (three goals, three assists) and Backstrom (two goals, four assists) each have six points. Ovechkin has four goals in seven games, including one in Game 1.

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