The Pittsburgh Penguins hope that putting their two top offensive threats on the No. 1 line can spark their struggling offence when they host the Detroit Red Wings at Mellon Arena tonight for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final.
Down 2-0 in their series and held without a single goal, Penguins head coach Michel Therrien hinted that he will place centres Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin together in five-on-five situations.
"We would do it at times," Therrien told reporters Monday. "We do it at times."
Crosby and Malkin, who combined for 13 goals and 40 points through the first two rounds of the playoffs, have been unable to get Pittsburgh rolling in the final. Crosby managed nine shots with a minus-1 rating and Malkin has just one shot with a minus-3 rating.
"He (Malkin) knows he needs to be better," Therrien added. "We addressed it with him. He knows. We want him to be a leader, and he's got to respond as a leader."
An even-strength pairing with Malkin, combined with the last line change, could be just the thing Crosby needs to get his offensive game going. Selke Trophy finalist Henrik Zetterberg has matched Crosby minute-for-minute in five-on-five situations and has effectively shut down the young phenom.
Also, defenceman Darryl Sydor - who won Stanley Cups with the Dallas Stars in 1999 and the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004 - will dress for the first time this postseason, replacing rookie Kristopher Letang. Sydor has not played since March 31.
There are no lineup changes expected for the Red Wings, who have played perfect hockey through the first two games and are close to clinching their fourth Stanley Cup in 10 years.
Two-time Cup winner Chris Osgood stopped all 22 shots he faced Monday for his second consecutive shutout as the Red Wings skated to a 3-0 triumph over the Penguins in Game 2. Osgood became the first goaltender to post shutouts in the first two games of the final
since Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils did so in 2003 against an Anaheim Mighty Ducks team coached by Babcock.
The last time the Penguins were shut out in consecutive playoff games was in the 2001 Eastern Conference final against New Jersey, when the Devils beat them 3-0 in Game 3 and 5-0 in Game 4 in Pittsburgh. It's also the first time in the Penguins' three Stanley Cup final appearances they have been down by two games. They swept Chicago in 1992 and beat Minnesota in six games in 1991, when they lost two of the first three games but won the next three.
The Penguins are looking to become the second team in final history to lose the first two games on the road and win the Cup.
The 1971 Montreal Canadiens also accomplished the feat, defeating the Chicago Blackhawks in seven games.