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Pens adjust without their captain

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Head coach Mike Sullivan announced that Sidney Crosby has been diagnosed with a concussion after getting injured on a cross-check to the head from Alex Ovechkin and Matt Niskanen in Game 3, and will miss Game 4.

It's obviously going to be a big challenge for the Pens to be without their captain and leader, but one that they're going to embrace. Overcoming injuries to key players isn't anything new for this team. It's something they've done all year and will continue to do.

"You can't replace him, but I think we've shown through the season whenever a good guy is not there other guys have to step up," goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. "And I think we're lucky to have some depth on our team and I think we have enough to win games."

The Pens really are fortunate to have such depth on their roster, starting with their other franchise superstar center in Evgeni Malkin. But as both Sullivan and Fleury said, it's not fair to put the weight of the team on Malkin's shoulders.

"I don't think the burden of responsibility falls on him solely," Sullivan said. "I think it's a collective effort. That's the essence of a team."

That being said, Sullivan added that Malkin is going to have to bring his very best game in order to help them win.

"It'll be fun to watch 'Geno,'" Fleury said. "Knowing him, knowing the way he can go out there, he's a dominant player also and I'm really looking forward to seeing him go tomorrow."

Sullivan said that winger Phil Kessel is the same way, and then it goes on down the bench.

"That's how we look at it," Sullivan said. "We believe in this group as a team and that's how this team has had success throughout the course of this season. It seems like certain players will step up at different times to make big plays that help this team find ways to win games. This is just one more challenge that our team will face. We've had lots of them this season, so we've got a lot of practice at it. And I think our guys are excited to get back on the ice for Game 4."

One key facet the Pens will have to adjust in without Crosby is on the power play.

"Obviously he's a tough guy to replace on the power play," Sullivan said. "That's certainly one of the areas that he really helps us."

After losing Crosby early in Game 3, the Pens were given a five-minute power play that they didn't take advantage of (it didn't help that they took a penalty during that time).

From there, the Pens had four more chances on the man-advantage that they did not capitalize on. Patric Hornqvist said they have to work to get better and will get better moving forward.

"I thought at times, our power play was pretty good," Sullivan said. "We had some real good looks. We generated, I believe, nine scoring chances, some high-quality ones that we didn't convert. But the opportunities certainly were there. I think we can improve in certain areas. We looked at those areas today. And we'll share that with our guys and we'll try to make the improvements and go from there."

In terms of other lineup adjustments, Sullivan said those will be a game-time decision. They'll start with Game 4, and then go from there as necessary.

"We're going to take each game as it comes," Sullivan said. "We're going to take the one game right in front of us, we're going to try to do our very best to win that game. Listen, we've got a good hockey team here. We have a 2-1 lead in the series. We're proud of how our guys played last night. We loved their compete level. We loved their resilience that this team shows in the face of adversity and the challenges this group is presented with. They always respond the right way. There's no doubt in my mind we'll do that again.

"We've got character guys. We've got people we can win with. So we'll put a lineup on the ice tomorrow night that we'll believe in. And we'll go into that game doing everything within our power to try and get that win."

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