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Third line sets tone in Game 5 win

by Nicole Jelinek @Penguins / Pittsburgh Penguins

With all the star power in the Pens' lineup, it was the third line of Bryan Rust, Nick Bonino and Carter Rowney that stole the show in Pittsburgh's 7-0 victory in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa on Sunday at PPG Paints Arena to take a 3-2 series lead.

The trio combined for seven points (1G-6A) in the victory, with Rowney recording three assists - the first playoff points of his career.

"I think we have been playing pretty well here," Rowney said. "I think our line created some chances. It is a matter of time, I felt like if you keep doing the right things out there, hopefully some chances will capitalize and you will get your opportunities. A couple puck luck out there tonight and we were able to get a couple in the back of the net."

Rust, who returned to game action after missing the last two with an upper-body injury, was placed with Bonino and Rowney and the trio had instant chemistry.

"I had about five, six days of rest there basically, so my legs felt really good," Rust said. "I felt 100 percent out there. I was eager to get out there, so these guys helped me."

Throughout the early minutes of the game, the line instantly clicked - having a few good opportunities to produce early.

It didn't take much time before the line got on the board with Rust assisting on Olli Maatta's goal to open the scoring.

"Getting Rusty back is always good for the lineup," Bonino said. "I think the way he plays, getting in on the forecheck is how we wanted to play the last couple games and I think our goals came from turnovers and good forechecks and good dumps.

"We turned one over to Olli for a goal and then he goes to the net and hits one off of him, so those are plays you need in the playoffs and it was good having them back tonight."

The play Bonino is referring to happened just four minutes after Maatta's goal, when his shot went off of Rust's thigh and eluded Senators netminder Craig Anderson to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead.

"They gave us a lot of momentum," Rust said. "We try to go in the zone and feed off of that. They had some guys that were pretty exhausted out there-we were kind of able to take advantage of that."

Rowney would pick up his third assist in the second period on Matt Cullen's second goal of the postseason.

"Personally, it has been something I have been working for," Rowney said of breaking through offensively. "Just trying to be out there and be consistent and try to play my game. It has been a good experience so far and I am just trying to take it all in."

The Pens were dominant in their Game 5 victory, but it was the third line that set the tone.

"When Bones' line chips in the way it did offensively tonight, not just with goals, but I thought their puck possession, their puck-pursuit game was really strong," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "Chasing pucks down, chasing defensemen down, forcing their defensemen to have to make plays under pressure, then creating their offense off of an errant pass or a potential loose puck.

"I thought Bones' line in particular tonight was as good a puck-pursuit line as we've had out there. They created a lot of momentum for our team."

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