Coming off of a thrilling 3-2 OT win Wednesday night, the Penguins look to even the series at 2-2 tonight.
Pittsburgh which outshot the Capitals 42-23 in Game 3, controlled the play for the most part but needed overtime to solve the Capitals and avoid going down 3-0.
Tonight the Penguins are in a must-win situation like they were in Game 3 and many believe the winner of game 4 will win the series.
In Game 3, Evgeni Malkin put on a phenomenal performance after being ineffective in games 1 & 2. With Malkin back on track, a little bit of pressure has turned to Jordan Staal who despite being the 2nd overall pick in the 2006 draft, does not take a lot of heat for his subpar play in the playoffs because of the presence of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby in the lineup.
Staal has just one assist and a minus-4 rating in nine playoff games. Staal was a -1 in game 3 and struggled in the faceoff circle, winning only 33.3% of his draws.
When Staal plays at the level he did against Philadelphia in games 1 and 2, the Penguins are a nightmare to matchup against. To win in the playoffs,
you have to get some production from your 3rd and 4th line. Staal and the Penguins third line could be the key to the Penguins prevailing in this series and winning game 4.
Dan Bylsma on Jordan Staal: “The focus and the thoughts that go into your brain are a really big thing based on your specialty. Players talk about confidence and different things of that nature and (Staal) needs to be focused on playing a good solid game, a puck possession game in the offensive zone and limiting the opportunities for the other team by the way he manages the puck and the way he can play down low.
“I thought his Game 3 was his best game of the series by far. He was great offensively and he was responsible coming back. He worked his tail off and his line was much better in the offensive zone. You always have to control your thoughts, you have to know what your foundations is. He will get the points and goals playing the right way and doing the right things and he did a lot of those things in the last game.”
Penguins Projected Lineup
Kunitz – Crosby – Guerin.
Fedotenko – Malkin – Talbot
Cooke – Staal – Kennedy
Dupuis – Adams – Satan
Orpik – Gonchar
Gill – Scuderi
Eaton – Letang
Marc Andre Fleury will start in goal
Expected Scratches: Sykora, Boucher, Godard.
Capitals Projected Lineup (based on morning skate)
Ovechkin – Fedorov – Kozlov
Laich – Backstrom – Semin
Clark – Steckel – Bradley
Beagle – Gordon – Fleishmann
Morrisonn – Green
Poti – Jurcina
Erskine/Sloan – Pothier
Simeon Varlamov will start in goal
Notes: Alexander Semin did not participate in the morning skate but all indications are he will play. Michael Nylander is expected to be scratched unless Semin is a surprise scratch following warmups. Fehr skated for about 10 minutes. Likely out for another game. Erskine will be a game time decision. He has been sidelined for the past two games.