Crosby, Malkin to reunite?

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:11 PM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Could Evgeni Malkin be reunited with an old friend to help him snap out of the playoff scoring doldrums?

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma wasn't about to hand out his line combinations following this morning's skate in advance of tonight's Game 3 against the Washington Capitals.

But Bylsma wouldn't rule out putting Malkin back on a line with captain Sidney Crosby in key situations tonight as the Pens try to avoid falling into a 0-3 hole in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final.

"It's something I've done in different games and different situations," Bylsma said. "It's something I do look to do in the game ... it's more of us adding a more dynamic look to one line."

For much of the skate, Malkin was with his regular linemates, Rusian Fedotenko and Petr Sykora. But he also spent some time working with Crosby, though much of the focus there seemed to be on the power play.

Crosby was more forthcoming than his coach about the possibility, however.

"Hopefully it's a boost," Crosby said of the possibility. "That's why we're put together usually -- to create things and get momentum."

The talk of the first two games from a Pittsburgh perspective has been the lack of scoring beyond Crosby, who has four of the team's five goals in their two losses.

But besides Malkin -- who is on a five-game goalless streak -- Crosby's linemates Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin have also been silent.

"Both players play well and it's going to be a big challenge for us if they play together," Ovechkin said this morning of the prospect of Malkin and Crosby seeing duty together.

When Crosby was struggling earlier in the season, then Pens' coach Michel Therien put the two scoring threats back together for a game against Toronto and each counted four points in a 4-1 win over the Leafs. It's unlikely that Bylsma would put them together for the entire game, but in key situations it could happen.

As for the struggles of the NHL's leading goal scorer, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau believes far too much is being made of Malkin's struggles. He does have 11 points these playoffs and Bourdreau feels the Russian has been getting plenty of opportunity.

"He had a lot of chances .... games in the playoffs don't end up 8-7 very often," Boudreau said. "If Sid gets, three, Malkin's not going to get three. He's playing pretty good. If he had put the three in on the great chances he had (in Game 2) everyone would be talking about how good he was.

"We've got to do a better job of checking him. I don't think we are checking him well enough."

As for the nice start to the series, Boudreau is trying not to look too far ahead.

"These guys went to the Stanley Cup final last year so the one thing you know is they believe," Boudreau said. "Every game is going to be like a war against them."

FINISH LINES: Pens defenceman Kris Letang, who was crushed into the boards late in Game 2, skated this morning and will be a game-time decision tonight ... Caps goaltender Simeon Varlamov has kicked out 67 of the 72 shots he has faced and has been as cool as a seasoned veteran ... Crosby has been providing the main source of scoring for the Pens but hasn't had an assist in the past five games. Of course when his linemates don't score, that's going to happen ... The Pens are 26-18 all time in the third game of a best of seven series ... Pittsburgh has come back from 2-0 holes to win three times -- against Boston ('91) and twice against the Caps ('92 and '96).


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