Penguins’ Johnston splits Crosby and Kessel, alters lines

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, left, wasn't paired with Phil Kessel in practice on Friday.
Mark J. Rebilas/Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston didn't just tweak his lines during Friday morning's practice. He pretty much made wholesale changes as the team attempts to ignite a sputtering offense that has produced just 11 goals in seven games.

For starters, captain Sidney Crosby (one goal, two assists) was no longer paired with offseason acquisition and five-time 30-goal scorer Phil Kessel (two goals, one assist). Instead, Crosby skated with Pascal Dupuis and Patric Hornqvist while Kessel was grouped with Evgeni Malkin (team-leading three goals, five points) and rookie Sergei Plotnikov.

Johnston completed the shuffling by putting Nick Bonino and rookie Daniel Sprong with Chris Kunitz.

“We need to get more scoring chances out of certain lines. We took a look at some different combinations this morning,” Johnston told the team's website, one day removed from Pittsburgh's 4-1 setback to the Dallas Stars. The Penguins (3-4-0) will look to get it in gear for Saturday's road tilt with the Nashville Predators (6-1-0).