Penguins-Capitals: Who’s in, who’s out and what’s at stake in Game 4
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals will face off in what will likely be a testy Eastern Conference semifinal Game 4 at PPG Paints Arena on Wednesday night.
Here’s what you need to know about the matchup:
WHAT: Eastern Conference semifinal, Game 4
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: PPG Paints Arena
TELEVISION: NBC Sports
OUT: Sidney Crosby. Crosby suffered a concussion early in the first period of Monday’s Game 3. After Alex Ovechkin knocked Crosby off-balance, a Matt Niskanen cross-check to the head sent him sprawling onto the ice. After staying down for several seconds, Crosby slowly skated off with trainers. Head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed a concussion diagnosis on Monday. “I don’t think we’re going to change our game plan because someone is in or out of our lineup,” Sullivan said Wednesday. “We’re going to play the type of game that plays to our strengths and gives us the best chance to win. I think we have capable guys. We’re going to put a lineup on the ice we know we can win a game with.” To build a lineup without Crosby, Sullivan said the coaching staff will focus on combinations that provide balance and will “give us the best chance to win.”
Sidney Crosby hurt after taking a Niskanen cross-check to the head pic.twitter.com/T8P3iGK1m8
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 1, 2017
IN: Matt Niskanen. After the hit, Niskanen received a five-minute major for the hit and a game misconduct for cross-checking. But he didn’t have a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety and won’t face a suspension. “I regret that it happened,” Niskanen said Wednesday, “but I’m adamant that I’m not sure at that game speed, what I could have done different. Obviously, in super slo-mo and in hindsight, I wish I had one hand on my stick and my hands were way down, but the collision happened fast and Sid’s trying to score a goal, and he’s getting lower and lower as it happens. So, my intent was not to forcefully cross-check him in the face. I think anybody that knows me, I’m not trying to hit guys in the head.”
MAYBE: Sullivan ruled out Crosby for Game 4, but he didn’t rule out Conor Sheary. Sheary also sustained a concussion in Game 3 when he collided with teammate Patrick Hornqvist.
As if this game wasn’t already bonkers enough, the Penguins are now accidentally colliding with and injuring their own players pic.twitter.com/4kMVPZhx5N
— SB Nation NHL (@SBNationNHL) May 2, 2017
WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Penguins returned to Pittsburgh on Monday with a 2-0 series lead. After fighting back from a 2-0 deficit to send the Game 3 to overtime, they eventually fell 3-2. Now, with its lead trimmed to 2-1, Pittsburgh will try to hold off the Capitals in Game 4 without Crosby. If Washington wins, the Capitals will head back home with a tied series and plenty of momentum.