'HBK' line gets it done again for Pittsburgh Penguins

Phil Kessel has been a difference-maker all postseason for the Penguins. Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images

The so-called "HBK" line sent a few heart rates soaring in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Carl Hagelin opened the scoring Wednesday with his fifth goal of the postseason. Nick Bonino had an assist on the Penguins' second goal. Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist, giving him a team-best 16 points this postseason. His seven goals this postseason are a career high.

The result? A 4-2 Penguins victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning for a 2-1 series lead.

Kessel is one of four Penguins not named Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin to score at least 16 points in a single postseason since 2006. The other three are Marian Hossa and Ryan Malone in 2008 and Kris Letang in 2013.

Kessel’s two points give him 37 points in 36 career postseason games. Since he made his postseason debut in 2008, he is one of four players averaging at least one point per game. Of those four, three play for the Penguins (Crosby and Malkin are the other two).

Since that line was put together, Kessel has 30 points, Bonino has 28 and Hagelin has 24 in 29 games.

Also of note from Game 3:

Crosby scored for the second straight game after going eight consecutive games without one. He has six career conference finals goals. The Penguins are 6-0 when he scores in a conference final.

The Penguins had 78 shot attempts to the Lightning’s 50. They tallied 25 high-danger scoring chances (from the slot or low slot) compared to just 10 for the Lightning, leading to 17 shots and two goals from the high-danger area. The Penguins have 217 shot attempts in the series to the Lightning’s 135.

Per Elias Sports Bureau research, since the creation of the conference finals format in 1982, teams that have won Game 3 of the conference finals when the series was tied at 1-1 have gone on to win 28 of 35 series.