Caps take page out of Penguins playbook with Ovechkin on third line


The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup with their best goal-scoring winger on the third line.

Maybe it’ll work for the Washington Capitals.

“Just try to get three lines going,” captain Alex Ovechkin told reporters today after practicing on the third line with Lars Eller and Tom Wilson.

Three lines have most certainly not been going for the Caps of late. Their third line of Eller, Wilson and Andre Burakovsky has gone completely dry offensively, one of the main reasons Washington finds itself on the brink of elimination.

The Penguins lead the Capitals, 3-1. Game 5 goes tomorrow at Verizon Center.

The Penguins, of course, rolled through the 2016 postseason with Sidney Crosby on the first line, Evgeni Malkin on the second, and Phil Kessel on the third (alongside Nick Bonino and Carl Hagelin, comprising the HBK Line.)

“It’s pick your poison,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan liked to say of his three-line attack.

Whether that’s exactly what Caps coach Barry Trotz was thinking before he put Ovechkin on the third line is hard to say. Trotz called out his “top guys” after Wednesday’s Game 4 loss, and Ovechkin admitted himself that he didn’t play well enough.

“Obviously, I didn’t play my game at all tonight so I think, me personally, I have to play much better,” he said.

At practice today, Burakovsky took Ovechkin’s regular spot on the top line with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, while the second line of Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Justin Williams remained intact.

Related: On the ‘matchup problems’ the Penguins have given the Sharks