PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are home for Games 3 and 4 of this emotional second-round series and will look for their first series lead with a victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 3, 8 p.m. ET Monday at Consol Energy Center.
Here's what to watch for:
Orlov was a healthy scratch in Game 2. It's expected Nate Schmidt will move up in the depth chart and play with John Carlson, Orpik's usual defense partner. The Caps played well during the regular season after Orpik was injured, but not so much in the first round, when he missed the final three games of their series against the Philadelphia Flyers after suffering an upper-body injury
The Penguins, meanwhile, will look to fill Maatta's role as he remains out with an upper-body injury. Look for either Derrick Pouliot or Justin Schultz, another puck-moving defenseman, to move into Maatta's role. Pouliot has never played in a Stanley Cup playoff game, although early indications are he might get the nod over Schultz for Game 3.
"Derrick's a good player," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Monday. "He can move the puck. He's a strong kid. He's a big body. He's really improved with the defensive aspect of his game."
Schultz, acquired from the Edmonton Oilers during the season, has appeared in one postseason game in his career, and that was Game 1 of the opening round with the Pens. He played just 5:52 in that game and has not played since.
Fleury taking part in optional practice today pic.twitter.com/uK5b4UcBC5— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) May 1, 2016
Sullivan would not comment on Fleury's availability but said he has made "significant improvement" as he tries to recover from a second concussion this season.
Given how well Matt Murray has played this spring -- he has a 1.74 goals-against average and .939 save percentage while going 4-1 -- it seems inconceivable that Fleury would go from not playing since March 31 to starting in the playoffs. But is it possible he could return to the lineup as a backup to Murray and be able to step in, should the need arise? "We're obviously a better team when he's part of it," Sullivan said. Food for thought.
• The Capitals have been dominant while killing penalties this spring, allowing just one goal on 31 opportunities. They killed all five Penguins opportunities in Game 2, including four second-period power-play chances. Orpik is a big part of that unit and if the Penguins can win the special-teams battle for the first time in the series, it will go a long way toward allowing them to take control.
"I told our group this morning not to get discouraged, because we were close," Sullivan said. "What's most important from my standpoint is they keep their swagger."
The Caps have the only power-play goal of the series and are 1-for-6 through the first two games.
"We're getting some bounces, which is nice," Capitals center Mike Richards said. "We have confidence from our group, which always helps, and our goaltender's making some really big saves when we have some breakdowns. It's a pretty good combination."
Given the skilled balance both teams possess, it's not a stretch to suggest the team that wins the special-teams battle will emerge from this series.
"As you get later in the playoffs, goals are harder to come by, and when you have a power play that can win you games and you can have a penalty kill that can get you momentum and ultimately win you games," Richards said, "it's just a big part of the game."