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Rakell’s getting better, but will Penguins’ No. 1 power play, too?

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Pittsburgh Penguins Evgeni Malkin celebrates with Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby

There are a lot of reasons the Pittsburgh Penguins have a 2-1 lead over the New York Rangers in their opening-round playoff series.

Production from their top power-play unit is not on the list.

The Penguins actually have been one of the best teams with the man-advantage in this year’s playoffs — they enter Game 4 tonight at 7 at PPG Paints Arena converting 33.3 percent of their chances, third-highest success rate in the NHL — but all of their 5-on-4 goals have come from the second unit.

Not only has the No. 1 group — Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust — failed to generate a 5-on-4 goal so far, it has been on the ice for a pair of shorthanded goals by the Rangers.

Nonetheless, coach Mike Sullivan said after his team’s game-day skate that he believes the top group will be able to begin performing to its potential.

“We believe in them,” he said. “They’re talented players, and we believe they’ll get it together and execute, and when they do, they’re certainly going to help us have success.”

The onus on executing efficiently obviously falls on the players, but Sullivan said he and his assistants are attempting to get the unit back in synch.

“The coaching staff can help in that regard,” he said. “We’re certainly trying to do our part to help these guys have success. We’re sharing the insights that we have, and the observations that we have. We’re trying to give them the game plan that sets them up for success. This is a collective effort.”

Pittsburgh Penguins Notes

*** Rickard Rakell, who was injured during the first period of Game 1, participated in the game-day skate, but wore a no-contact jersey and will not play tonight.

*** Brian Dumoulin has missed the past two games because of an unspecified injury and did not take part in the game-day skate. Sullivan said his status has not changed, so he presumably will not be in the lineup tonight.

*** Jason Zucker, on his injury-plagued season: “I would say it’s definitely been the toughest year of my career, for sure. The way the injuries have gone … feeling great, come back, reinjured, feel great again, come back, injured … it just feels like it’s been non-stop.”

*** The Penguins’ personnel combinations were unchanged from their 7-4 victory in Game 3, although Rakell did a bit of work with the fourth line and Nathan Beaulieu rotated in on the third defense pairing.

*** Barry Trotz, fired as coach of the New York Islanders this morning, was behind the bench for three of the past four teams that knocked the Penguins out of the playoffs. He coached Washington in 2018, the Islanders in 2019 and 2021.

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William Maloni
William Maloni
6 months ago

Trotz is an excellent coach and individual; won’t be out of work long, unless he wants to retire.

Wasnt
6 months ago

I haven’t even noticed that Duomo wasn’t playing.

Jackmccrory
Jackmccrory
6 months ago

Take 58 off PP 1 and put 5’in there. So tired of seeing 58 turnovers constantly.

Dean
Dean
6 months ago

Let’s hope that the Pens keep firing on at least a few things at a time. They will be really good if it all comes together.

We need to keep 4 lines scoring ( it still can get better)
We need quick exits to keep the puck out of our end to protect Louie

Frank
Frank
6 months ago

Isles started on a 13 game road trip. Had serious Covid and injury issues. The goaltending was leaky. Trotz gets fired. Too funny. I guess management feels someone else could have done better? No love for NHL coaches. They have the life span of a house fly! Maybe the Pens can convince them to hire Ivan Hlinka?

mstar80
mstar80
6 months ago
Reply to  Frank

He’s dead. One word for you, Google.

Ethan
Ethan
6 months ago

Maybe I’m crazy–but thought Malkin and Letang assisted on Rust goal in first game while 2 man up.

Alan Smith
6 months ago

Let’s just say the Rangers are not that good! Carolina looks to be a pretender as well! Who do the Pens play if the Hurricanes and Rangers are out?

WVlovesthePens
WVlovesthePens
6 months ago
Reply to  Alan Smith

They would play Boston. If/when we beat the Rangers (and their whiny fans who think the NHL and refs are conspiring to beat them), the Carolina/ Boston winner would be next … followed by whoever is left between the Panthers, Leafs, Lightning, and Capitals.

Katz is Dumb
Katz is Dumb
6 months ago
Reply to  Alan Smith

they play the winner of Carolina and Boston. It is a true bracket – no reseeding.