Pens head coach Mike Sullivan likes to start Sidney Crosby's line at the beginning of every period.
And Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Patric Hornqvist showed why on Thursday at Verizon Center, as the wingers each set up the captain for a pair of goals just 1:04 apart in the second period of Pittsburgh's 3-2 win over Washington in Game 1 of the Second Round.
"We got one early there. Didn't have too long of a shift so then we came off and then got out there again, were able to get a quick chance and put it in," Crosby said. "That's how it goes sometimes. You don't get some for a while and then they come in bunches. It's nice to see a couple go in."
"He brings a lot of things to the table even when he doesn't score," Hornqvist said. "Every night he brings a lot of energy and a lot of confidence to this group. He's our leader and he's our best player."
The first came on the opening faceoff, just 12 seconds into play. Crosby won the draw and Hornqvist tipped it up to Guentzel, who carried into the offensive zone. He and Crosby went in on a 2-on-1, and Guentzel passed it over.
That line picked up where they left off on their next shift. This time, Guentzel again carried in, but opted to drop a pass to Olli Maatta. He put a shot on net, where - shocker - Hornqvist was waiting. He displayed incredible patience holding onto the puck just long enough to get it over to a crashing Crosby for the open net.
"Just two great plays," Crosby said. "On both, Horny created some loose pucks. He poked a couple pucks free and then Jake made a great pass on that 2-on-1 and Horny found me off the rebound there. Some really good looks from them."
During Game 5 of the First Round against Columbus, Sullivan decided to put Hornqvist back on a line with Crosby - saying the winger brought a different dimension of muscle, compete level and battle.
He certainly sparked that line in Game 1 of the Second Round against Washington, as he was noticeable from start of the game.
Both with his ability to agitate the other team - he drew a penalty less than four minutes in - and with his dogged determination to get to the dirty areas of the ice.
"You know how he plays and the energy he brings," Crosby said. "This time of year, with how physical he is, with how hard he goes to the net, he's going to create something whether it's for himself or somebody else. He had some chances, he had some great passes tonight. He's physical, he plays with a ton of intensity and a ton of energy and he's a big part of our team. It's important to have guys like that who can create so much different ways."
When asked yesterday if he puts more pressure on himself to produce when he's on a line with Crosby, Hornqvist answered in the affirmative.
"We have to score," he said. "When you are on the top two lines, you have to produce. If we do that, our chance to win the series is really high. That's what you like as a player, to have that kind of pressure on you. You want to play your best game when the stakes are higher."
And that's exactly what Hornqvist and his linemates did.