Penguins relying on grit, defense to take control vs. Caps

Playoffs Minus Crosby Penguins edge Capitals to take 3-1 lead

If you're a Penguins fan, you've seen and suffered through it.

The only time Malkin has skated in a National Hockey League playoff game without Crosby was the first game of the 2013 post-season against the Islanders.

The closing moments were a snapshot of the Pittsburgh Penguins' performance: They hacked the puck out of the zone, stuffed shooting lanes with flailing bodies, and the Capitals, with an extra skater stuck in the penalty box, could do little to gain solid footing in the offensive zone.

Just not in time to try and help the Penguins build on the 2-1 lead they take into Game 4 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN). "Certainly Washington is a real good team that has a dynamic offense".

A couple of things are going to have to happen, all of them possible.

The Capitals dominated the third but could not beat Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

Also, this isn't Pittsburgh's first go-around in the playoffs with Crosby on the bench with an injury.

Some of the Capitals' answers following the loss were similar to ones they gave after their 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins in Game 4 last season, referencing their character and resilience.

That was an emotionally turbulent time for the Penguins franchise that was $6.5 million in debt and trying - and failing - to avoid bankruptcy.

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Even without Crosby, the Penguins won't lack for star power. One, on defenseman John Carlson, led to Justin Schultz's game-winning power-play goal 11:24 into the second period after the Capitals had fought back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game.

HollywoodLifers, who are you rooting for in this series, the Capitals or the Penguins?

After an extra day off between games, the teams return to Verizon Center, where the Penguins won Games 1 and 2 and will be looking for the kill shot. If Washington is to have any hope of a comeback, it must play smarter, more disciplined and stop shooting itself in the foot. Instead they hit the Capitals where it could hurt the most.

Ryan Ellis has scored four goals in the postseason, while Roman Josi has added three goals.

Capitals right wing Tom Wilson wasn't born in 1992, so revenge won't be a factor.

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Niskanen, who played with Crosby for four years in Pittsburgh before signing with Washington in 2014, turned toward Crosby. "I think me personally have to play much better". "You win the next one, and then you get the opportunity to win one more and then you get an opportunity to win one more". "We have to, especially from the point, find ways to get them in the lanes and pass out of them, maybe get some shots from different spots. We made some in-game adjustments to our line combinations, based on how the game was being played and what we saw, and we went from there".

Said goaltender Braden Holtby: "We have nothing to save it for". "Niskanen's hands were low, he didn't really separate his hands in a cross check motion, it looked more a reflex motion than anything".

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