Evgeni Malkin and Brian Dumoulin participated in the Pittsburgh Penguins morning skate, Tuesday. Both left the ice with other players expected to be in the lineup tonight.
From published reports at the skate, unlike a day earlier, Dumoulin wore a regular practice sweater and did not wear the no-contact jersey. Carter Rowney and Carl Hagelin remained on the ice after the skate, which is typically a sign the player will not play tonight.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan reverted to his standard refrain, “all players are game-time decisions,” he said.
Dumoulin sounded optimistic about playing.
“Hopefully, I’ll be ready to go. I have to wait and see what coaches say. I still have to talk to a couple people and see, but hopefully,” Dumoulin admitted.
More Mike Sullivan
When asked if the Penguins may seek retribution for Capitals forward Tom Wilson’s hit which forced Dumoulin out of Game 2, Sullivan was strict.
“We’re just going to play the game. Our number one focus is to win the hockey game,” Sullivan said. “We’re looking at one game. We’re going to try to play the game that gives us the best chance to win.”
The Penguins power play, a source of strength in the regular season, is now the least productive unit remaining in the playoffs. The Penguins conversion rate stands at 16.7 percent which is the worst of the eight remaining teams. Despite missing Patric Hornqvist and Malkin for multiple games, Sullivan isn’t using the personnel excuse.
“We’ve got to do a better job with our execution. We’ve got to be sharper and crisper with our puck movement,” said Sullivan. “I think our shot selection can be better. I think we’ve had opportunities to get the puck to the net. We chose not to.”
If Wilson does receive the medicine Penguins fans want to be administered, Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak is a prime candidate to be the person who delivers the message. However, Oleksiak understands the great temptation could be used against the Penguins.
“Any time you give a team a chance at a power play, they’re going to try to make the most of it. (Striking the balance) is just being smart, playing hard between the whistles and not getting sucked into anything is going to be key,” Oleksiak said. “That’s what they want. They want you off your game and thinking about things other than winning hockey games.”