WILL FLYERS’ DAVE HAKSTOL MAKE CHANGES FOR GAME 4?

By Mary Cunningham

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol has a steady hand.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan is more prone to tinker. Both approaches have their merits.

After a lopsided 7-0 loss in Game 1, the Flyers didn’t make a single change to their line combinations or defense pairs. It paid off with a 5-1 win for the Flyers.

After suffering that Game 2 loss, Sullivan juggled the right wings on each of his top three lines for Game 3 yesterday.

Patric Hornqvist moved up with Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel bumped up with Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust slid down with Derick Brassard.

It paid off with a 5-1 win for the Penguins.

“It was more of a general shake up a little bit,” Sullivan said. “There are not any combinations that we haven’t used in the past. Sometimes, we just tweak them a little bit and we get a positive response from people.

“Geno and Phil, for example, have shown an ability to play very well together. They have some chemistry. They can be dynamic when they’re playing. We thought that might be an opportunity to reunite those two guys. As I always say, nothing’s ever etched in stone. We thought we would go with what we went with here. We thought the lines played well.”

After starting off with two quiet performances, Derick Brassard interjected himself into the series with a strong game.

When Brassard was on the ice at even strength, the Penguins outshot the Flyers, 4-0. He also scored a second-period power-play goal.

Brassard shook off a lower-body injury that cost him the last five games of the regular season to appear in the playoff opener.

“Those two weeks I missed before playoffs kind of hurt,” Brassard said. “The first two games I felt the legs weren’t there, but the fact is that we’re playing now. I practiced every day and came back and built on something.”

Brian Dumoulin’s second-period goal furthered his reputation as a big-game player.

In the regular season in his career, Dumoulin scores once every 35 games or so. In the playoffs, he scores once every 16 games.

“I think the last few years his confidence has been growing,” defense partner Kris Letang said. “He’s a really good skater, so he’s able to get open. That’s how he’s going to create offense, with his legs. Jump in the rush and create opportunity for himself.”

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