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How Penguins aim to free Sidney Crosby for Game 3 vs. Islanders

PITTSBURGH — If the Penguins want to get Sidney Crosby free from the Islanders’ shackles — specifically defensemen Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock — then it could come with Pittsburgh getting the last change at home starting with Game 3 of their first-round series Sunday afternoon.

Crosby has not registered a point in the opening two games, both of which were won by the Islanders as they hold a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. For his 29:22 of even-strength ice time, Crosby has seen Pelech for 22:13 and Pulock for 20:57, just as coach Barry Trotz had planned it.

With Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan able to dictate the matchups more on home ice, there is a better chance Crosby could find more preferential opposition — if that does exist on the deep Islanders defense.

“We’ve done matchups all year in different ways, but on the road, we’ve gone with what we’ve gone [with],” Trotz said Saturday morning on Long Island. “We’ll just go with our group of five. They understand. At home, you have little more of that advantage. We’re not going to fret over it. If you’re out there, you have to get it done.”

Up front, Casey Cizikas’ line with Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck have seen the most of Crosby, and they know it’s hard to contain him for a full series.

“He’s the greatest player in the world, and he’s going to create chances, he’s going to create opportunities,” Cizikas said. “If we do a good job of being physical and playing hard, we’re going to try to limit those chances.”

Maybe the Islanders haven’t had the prettiest power plays in the first two games, but they scored on two out of eight, and that is all Trotz was worried about.

“I’ll take [25] percent all day long,” Trotz said. “They worked on it for the last little while. They’re getting a bit of confidence with it, and they’ve made a difference every game. That’s what you want.”

Evgeni Malkin took two penalties in Game 2 and one in Game 1, showing his frustration. But when Trotz was asked if Malkin is a player who can get agitated, he smirked and deferred to Sullivan.

“Ask Sully,” Trotz said.

Trotz didn’t anticipate the noon start on Sunday bothering the Islanders.

“It’s just understanding to start on time. Start time isn’t 7 [p.m.], it’s noon,” he said jokingly. “We’ll be fine. We’ll get everyone to breakfast, we’ll get everyone to the rink, and we’ll be ready to go.”


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