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5 Keys: Capitals at Penguins, Game 6

Washington counting on Alex Ovechkin; 'HBK Line' could reunite for Pittsburgh

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent


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

Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series 3-2

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will have another chance to close the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals at PPG Paints Arena on Monday.

The Penguins entered the third period of Game 5 at Verizon Center in Washington with a 2-1 lead but allowed three third-period goals and lost 4-2. The Capitals will need to repeat their effort if they want to send this series back to Washington for Game 7.

Here are 5 keys for Game 6:


1. Return of 'HBK Line'?

After losing Game 5, the Penguins altered their lines during the morning skate Monday. The most notable change was the reunion of the "HBK Line" of Nick Bonino centering left wing Carl Hagelin and right wing Phil Kessel.

That line was used early in Game 2 before the Penguins moved Kessel back to right wing next to center Evgeni Malkin. The "HBK Line" was effective against the Capitals in the second round in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when it scored each of the Penguins' four goals in a series-deciding 4-3 overtime win in Game 6.

"It's nice to draws on memories of that," Bonino said, "but at the same time, it's a new season, new team."


2. Washington's desperation

With one period remaining before possible elimination, the Capitals might have played their best 20 minutes of the series in the third period of Game 5.

The Capitals scored two goals 27 seconds apart in the third after Nicklas Backstrom tied it 2-2 at 2:49 of the period. They outshot the Penguins 32-22, allowing 10 Penguins shots through the first two periods.

If Washington pressures Pittsburgh in a similar fashion on the road, there could be a Game 7 on Wednesday.

"You build up all year and you work all year and all summer, all the weight lifting and whatever it was, to get to this spot," Capitals forward T.J. Oshie said. "I expect some good resolve and desperation in our game."


3. Pittsburgh adjusting without Trevor Daley

The defenseman will not play after leaving Game 5 with a lower-body injury. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Daley is day to day but did not disclose who would replace him in the lineup.

Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel likely will take Daley's spot. He skated next to Olli Maatta during the morning skate and left the ice before defenseman Mark Streit, the other candidate to enter the lineup.

"It's a high-stakes game and the adrenaline will take care of itself," said Ruhwedel, who hasn't played since April 6. "Once that first shift is started, the rest will take care of itself."


[RELATED: Complete Capitals-Penguins series coverage]


4. Alex Ovechkin building off Game 5

After scoring in Game 1 against the Penguins, Ovechkin was relatively quiet in the following three games. However, when the Capitals needed their captain the most, Ovechkin came through in Game 5.

Forward Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the game-winner, but it was Ovechkin who scored to put Washington ahead 4-2 after they were behind 2-1 to start the third period.

Ovechkin could help keep the Capitals alive past Monday with another solid game.

"Every game has been tense," Ovechkin said. "I hope we're ready."

Video: PIT@WSH, Gm5: Ovechkin strikes on second effort


5. Penguins need 60-minute effort

The Penguins are 7-3 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs without playing a complete game to this point. Against the Capitals, they have lost the puck-possession battle but have taken advantage of quality scoring chances on their way to three wins.

There might come a point where the Penguins can't afford to sit back for lengthy stretches. That could happen Monday, and if it does, they must be prepared.

"We've been struggling to score a little bit," forward Conor Sheary said. "We want to make sure we're ready tonight."


Capitals projected lineup

Andre Burakovsky -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Justin Williams

Alex Ovechkin -- Lars Eller -- Tom Wilson

Daniel Winnik -- Jay Beagle

Brooks Orpik -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Nate Schmidt -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Karl Alzner

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Brett Connolly, Taylor Chorney, Paul Carey

Injured: None


Penguins projected lineup

Conor Sheary -- Sidney Crosby -- Patric Hornqvist

Jake Guentzel -- Evgeni Malkin -- Bryan Rust

Carl Hagelin -- Nick Bonino -- Phil Kessel

Chris Kunitz -- Matt Cullen -- Tom Kuhnhackl

Brian Dumoulin -- Ron Hainsey

Olli Maatta-- Chad Ruhwedel

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Marc-Andre Fleury

Tristan Jarry

Scratched: Scott Wilson, Josh Archibald, Mark Streit, Oskar Sundqvist, Cameron Gaunce, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Derrick Pouliot, Daniel Sprong, Dominik Simon, David Warsofsky, Frank Corrado, Kevin Porter, Garrett Wilson, Tom Sestito

Injured: Matt Murray (lower body), Kris Letang (upper body), Trevor Daley (lower body)


Status report

The Capitals are expected to use the same lineup they had in Game 5, meaning they will use seven defensemen again. … The Penguins likely will move Sheary back to left wing next to Crosby, where he played in the first round. After he had 53 points (23 goals, 30 assists) during the regular season, Sheary has two assists in nine playoff games.


Who's hot

Kuznetsov has scored in three straight games. He scored the game-winning goal at 7:20 of the third period Saturday, and has four goals in the series. … Kessel, who scored in Game 5, has five points (three goals, two assists) this series.

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