Big additions to Pens lineup

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:23 PM ET

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Penguins got big forwards Bill Guerin and Mike Rupp back in their lineup for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal Saturday night.

So who was in front of Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak for both the Penguins goals in their 2-1 win at Mellon Arena and a 3-2 series lead?

You know it.

“When you have a goaltender that’s playing like that, you need to get people there,” said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. “Two big additions and two big goals.”

Guerin, who missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury, was in front of Halak when Pens’ defenceman Kris Letang opened the scoring with a 47-foot shot from the point on the power play with just over two minutes left in the first period.

Rupp was in front when defenceman Sergei Gonchar scored on a 59-footer through traffic at 9:50 of the second period, just the Penguins fourth even-strength goal (not counting two empty netters) of the series.

Now the Penguins have a shot at closing out the pesky Habs Monday night at the Bell Centre.

“We’re excited about the good position we put ourselves in, but we need to cut that cord when we wake up tomorrow morning and move on to Monday,” said Rupp, who was out for Game 4.

“We’re sitting here (Saturday) morning looking at a three game series against a team that’s given us problems. They’re playing us really well. They deserve their wins and we deserve our wins. And there’s really no room for anything else but come with your best.”

The Penguins were also bolstered by centre Evgeni Malkin, who finally decided to play like last year’s Conn Smythe winner. He was dominating in the second period with at least four great scoring chances. He dished to Letang on that first goal by the Penguins on the power play late in the first period.

Malkin didn’t get a point on the second Pittsburgh goal, but he was all over the place, forcing Halak into another good save with his shoulder seconds before Gonchar pounded home his shot.

“Geno has the ability to rise to a different level with his speed and size and be a bull out there,” said Bylsma. “There were three or four or five instances on the rush in the offensive zone where he had the puck on a string and was going to a different level...I love seeing him there.

“He’s tough to handle when he does that. He glues everybody, including the coaches, to the edge of their seats to see what’s going to happen.”

“This series I think it’s my best game tonight and I hope it continues the same,” said Malkin.

Did he feel like he was getting stronger?

“I don’t know. Maybe just one game,” he said. “We’ll see next game.”

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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