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Crosby wants more from Penguins top line in Game 6

Pittsburgh captain, Hornqvist hope to provide spark with chance to eliminate Capitals

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa -- Through five games of their Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Washington Capitals, the Pittsburgh Penguins top line of Sidney Crosby centering left wing Conor Sheary and right wing Patric Hornqvist has scored two goals, each from Hornqvist. The line has combined for seven points.

But Crosby thinks the line can do more.

Despite the Penguins captain's offensive struggles, Pittsburgh leads the best-of-7 series 3-2 entering Game 6 at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) because of improved depth compared to previous Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Penguins lost Game 5 and would like to avoid another loss Tuesday that would force a Game 7 at Verizon Center two days later. Increased production from the Crosby line could provide an extra spark the Penguins seek.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm4: Holtby gets glove on Sheary's wrister

"You definitely want to score more," Crosby said. "I think you always want more, but I think we've generated some chances. But I think that we still need to find a way to produce more, whether it's chances or execute when we do get them. I would say that's how we view it. I think we can get better.

"It's playoff hockey. It's a matter of executing on the chances you get. As a line, I think we want to get a few more chances. When you're just depending on just the one or two, maybe, it's important to bury them … I'd like to create a little bit more around the net."

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan broke up the line in the third period of Pittsburgh's 3-1 loss in Game 5, replacing Hornqvist with right wing Tom Kuhnhackl. Hornqvist played 10:36 in 13 shifts Saturday after scoring the overtime goal in Game 4.

Hornqvist said his demotion was not health-related.

"I didn't have my best game," Hornqvist said, "and I think we all do everything we can to try to win. I didn't have my best game and that's what happened … I didn't win enough pucks on the walls, and I didn't take it to the net as well as I can. Some nights you don't have it and that happened. I have to be better here [Tuesday]. And I will [be]."

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm4: Holtby stretches out to rob Crosby

Hornqvist's role on the Crosby line requires him to carve out space in front of the net, create screens and collect rebounds. He thought he was unable fulfill that role Saturday, but Sullivan wasn't as critical.

"He's a warrior of a player," Sullivan said. "He's done so much for this team … We're down a couple of goals and we're looking at players that have energy and that have juice that we think are going that might give us an opportunity to create a spark. I think [Hornqvist], because he's a great pro, he's one guy that really takes ownership of his game."

Crosby expects Hornqvist to improve Tuesday.

"I don't think he's going to be any extra motivated [Tuesday] because of anything that might be talked about," Crosby said. "I think he's always motivated. He brings it every night regardless … Knowing the circumstances, I think he's going to be at his best."

Crosby has two assists in his past two games after he was held off the scoresheet in the series' first three games.

Video: Hornqvist wins Game 4 for Pens in OT

Crosby's line isn't the only one struggling; center Evgeni Malkin has also yet to ignite. Malkin has one goal and one assist but no points since Game 2. 

Although their contributions might not jump out, they've had a positive impact away from the puck, Sullivan said.

"They share a tremendous amount of responsibility for our group and they're doing everything within their power to help our team win and I think we know it, as a group. Our players know it," Sullivan said. "This team isn't about any one or two players. I think the greatest things about our team right now is I think we've become a really good team."

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