PITTSBURGH -- As part of Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston's line juggling throughout Game 3 on Monday, he went back to a combination that worked well during the regular season with the hopes of igniting center Evgeni Malkin's stagnant offensive game.
Johnston put Blake Comeau with Malkin and David Perron to start the third period, and that line was on the ice for nine of Pittsburgh's 30 shot attempts, including three shots on goal. More than the shot production, they played in the offensive zone on almost every shift in the third, and Malkin looked quicker than he has all series.
The Penguins still lost 2-1 to the New York Rangers and fell behind 2-1 in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series, but Johnston might have rediscovered a line that could work in Game 4 on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET: NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 2, ROOT, MSG).
"I thought Comeau helped that line when he was with them," Johnston said. "I thought Comeau had some jump probably the last 12 minutes of the game on the wing there with his speed. So I thought the combination of those three was really good down the stretch there."
It's not all that surprising because Comeau played with Malkin for the majority of the season and scored 12 of his 16 goals while on the ice with Malkin. Comeau, though, had been playing apart from Malkin until the third period in Game 3.
Part of the reason Pittsburgh is trailing New York in the series is because Malkin has no points and four shots on goal through three games. Each Penguins loss was by one goal, so some production from Malkin could go a long way.
Malkin, though, admitted Sunday that he is playing injured by saying he is around 85-90 percent.
"[Malkin] had some looks, some speed tonight, I thought he had the work ethic," Johnston said. "It's going to come for that line, for sure."