With one last series to go and plenty of championship aspirations, there's never any room for error in the Stanley Cup final.
And down 1-0 to the Detroit Red Wings in their best-of-seven affair, the Pittsburgh Penguins wasted no time changing things up front with the return of Gary Roberts to the lineup.
With 125 playoff games under his belt and a Stanley Cup ring from his glory days with the Calgary Flames, the 19-year NHL veteran wasn't happy about being a healthy scratch for Game 1. But Roberts bit his tongue as the team skated to a 4-0 loss on Saturday night.
Penguins head coach Michel Therrien made the decision to get his team leader back in for Game 2 on Monday.
"It's not that we didn't want Gary Roberts in our lineup," Therrien explained Sunday. "Those guys we had (in the lineup) before the final did a fantastic job and got a reward. It's about rewarding players."
"You wait 19 years to be in the Stanley Cup final and you want to be part of it," Roberts said after practice on Sunday. "We've had a lot of guys who have stepped up and played well this year and certain circumstances have kept me out of the lineup. But I'm excited to get back in and try to do what I can to help the team win."
Roberts led the stretch at the Sunday's practice in Detroit, much to the delight of his teammates.
"He's our heart and soul - one of those guys that make a difference," said Penguins defenceman Ryan Whitney. "He's won a Cup, he's played for so long and he's a warrior. It's a bunch of things put together that the guys really look up to."
After being shut down and roughed around by Selke Trophy candidates Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on Saturday, captain Sidney Crosby skated with some added size on his wing Sunday with new linemate Ryan Malone.
The Pittsburgh native joined Crosby and Marian Hossa on the top line, moving Pascal Dupuis between Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy. Maxime Talbot is now with Evgeni Malkin and Petr Sykora, while Roberts will play with Adam Hall and Jarkko Ruutu. Georges Laraque, who had played every game in the playoffs, is out.
Zetterberg was matched up minute-for-minute with Crosby in five-on-five situations and won the day as the young phenom was held to three shots on goal and a minus-1 rating. But that does not mean Therrien is changing his game plan for Monday.
"I'm not going to pull Sid off the ice every time he's there," he explained. "We don't have the last change, they do. And I don't mind that matchup."
- written with files from TSN's Ryan Rishaug