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5 Keys: Capitals at Penguins, Game 3

Washington hoping for rebound from goalie Braden Holtby; Pittsburgh waiting on status of forward Patric Hornqvist

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

CAPITALS at PENGUINS

7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series 2-0

PITTSBURGH -- After winning the first two games on the road, the Pittsburgh Penguins return to PPG Paints Arena for Game 3 with a chance to take a 3-0 lead against the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Second Round.

The Capitals are behind in the series despite controlling play during large portions of Games 1 and 2. After losing 6-2 in Game 2 at Verizon Center on Saturday, the Capitals will need the result, not just the puck possession, to go their way in Game 3.

Here are 5 keys for Game 3:

 

1. Can Braden Holtby rebound?

The Capitals pulled Holtby after he allowed three goals on 14 shots in the first two periods of Game 2. Despite that lackluster performance, which came after he allowed three goals on 21 shots in Game 1, Holtby will get another chance Monday.

"We trust him," Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin said. "We know if the big moment is coming he's going to be the best. He is the best."

Through two games this series Holtby has an .829 save percentage. If the Capitals hope to win in Pittsburgh, they'll need their franchise goalie to improve quickly.

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm2: Holtby pushes across to deny Guentzel

 

2. Patric Hornqvist, Carl Hagelin and Brian Dumoulin are questionable for Penguins

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Hornqvist, Hagelin and Dumoulin would be game-time decisions after each missed the morning skate Monday.

Hornqvist, Pittsburgh's first-line right wing, left Game 2 after blocking a shot by Capitals defenseman John Carlson with his leg with 4:18 remaining in the first period. He has five points (two goals, three assists) in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"He does a lot of little things," center Sidney Crosby said. "I think just the level of us competing has to be a little higher here [without Hornqvist]."

The injuries for Hagelin and Dumoulin were not disclosed. Hagelin played 11:36 in Game 2, his first game since March 10 because of a lower-body injury.

 

3. The Capitals must capitalize on chances

During the first period in Game 2, the Capitals dominated the action and seemed to be on their way to tying the series 1-1. The Penguins survived the flurry and escaped the first period with the game 0-0 despite being outshot 16-5.

The Penguins' ability to withstand poor starts also was showcased in the Eastern Conference First Round, where the Columbus Blue Jackets routinely outplayed them early. The Capitals will need to capitalize on their chances in a way the Blue Jackets weren't able to or they will watch the Penguins take a 3-0 series lead, like the Blue Jackets did.

 

4. Can Jake Guentzel remain hot?

Guentzel was a relative unknown entering the playoffs. Through seven games, he has made a name for himself playing left wing on Crosby's line.

The 22-year-old rookie has seven goals in his first seven playoff games. The list of players to do that includes Maurice Richard with the 1944 Montreal Canadiens and Dino Ciccarelli with the 1981 Minnesota North Stars.

"I think we have to be at our best tonight," Guentzel said. "They're going to push back."

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm2: Guentzel strikes on odd-man rush

 

5. Washington attempting to have fun

Following their Game 2 loss, the Capitals held a closed-door meeting. Coach Barry Trotz on Monday called the meeting perfect, because to him, it exemplified his team's growth throughout the past year.

Trotz said he feels Washington's maturity has kept it from becoming paralyzed at any point during the first two games. He expects the same Monday.

"As a coach, you want your group to take complete ownership," Trotz said. "All we can do is look forward to tonight and enjoy this. It's actually quite fun. Playoffs are fun."

 

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)

 

Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby -- Bryan Rust

Chris Kunitz -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Scott Wilson -- Nick Bonino -- Conor Sheary

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Matt Cullen -- Carter Rowney

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Olli Maatta -- Trevor Daley

Mark Streit -- Ron Hainsey

Marc-Andre Fleury

Tristan Jarry

Scratched: Chad Ruhwedel

Injured: Matt Murray (lower body), Kris Letang (upper body), Patric Hornqvist (undisclosed), Carl Hagelin (undisclosed), Brian Dumoulin (undisclosed)

 

Status report

Alzner (upper body) will be a game-time decision. He skated on a fourth defense pair with Chorney at the morning skate. Stephenson was recalled from Hershey of the American Hockey League on Monday. He had three shots on goal in four regular-season games. … Murray skated on his own this morning without equipment, Sullivan said. He has not practiced since sustaining a lower-body injury in warmups before Game 1 of the first round. Kuhnhackl and Hainsey are expected to play Monday. They each left Game 2 after blocking a shot.

 

Who's hot

Malkin had two points (one goal, one assist) in Game 2. He leads the NHL in playoff scoring with 13 points (three goals, 10 assists). … Backstrom had two points (one goal, one assist) in Game 2. He has eight points (three goals, five assists) in the playoffs.

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