The Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins will play Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday, May 18. The series will shift to Tampa, Florida and the game can be seen on NBCSN at 8 p.m.
Here are five keys to Game 3:
1.) Take Advantage of Home Ice
The Lightning will be on home ice for the first time in the series and will need to take advantage of it. The crowd will be loud so they need to get off to a fast start and feed off the crowd’s energy. The Lightning need to get the forecheck established early and spend some much needed time in the offensive zone, which they didn’t do enough of in Game 2. The Bolts will want to try and get the first goal since they are 7-1 when doing so in the postseason. They did come back from a 2-0 deficit in Game 2, but lost in overtime.
Tampa Bay needs to do a better job of supporting each other especially if they want to cut down on the Pens quality scoring chances. The Bolts will also need to support each other to win the board battles, get loose pucks and get a forecheck going to spending some attack time in the offensive zone. The gap between the forwards and the defenseman can’t be too big because the Pens will take advantage of that and try to force turnovers. The Lightning didn’t have the puck enough in Game 2 to be able to generate much sustained pressure in the offensive zone.
3.) More Shots
The Lightning have had as many shots on goal in two games as the Pens total shots on goal in Game 2 (41). They had 20 shots get through to Matt Murray in Game 1, and 21 shots get through to the goalie in Game 2. The Pens have done a decent job of keep the Bolts to one and done in the offensive zone. Tampa Bay will need to get a cycle game going and if the shot is there then take it and don’t pass it up. They’ll also need to get in on the forecheck and win those board battles and get someone in front of Murray so they can have those second and third chances.
4.) Weather the Storm
Pittsburgh will need to weather the storm for the first 10 minutes of the game. The Bolts should come out ready to play in front of the home crowd. If the Pens can survive the first 10 minutes of the game and play a strong, defensive road game then they’ll have a good shot at taking the series lead. The Penguins also need to play a full 60 minutes, and keep attacking if they can manage to get the lead.
5.) Penguins Power Play
The Penguins need to start converting on the free opportunities that the Lightning are giving them by not being discipline, and taking too many penalties. The Penguins only had two chances on the power play during Game 2, but are only 1-for-6 in the Eastern Conference Final. One of those power plays was for five minutes and the Pens couldn’t take advantage and score a goal or two. The puck movement has been good, when they manage to get setup, but they are missing the net with too many shot attempts while on the man advantage. If they can get the power play going then they’ll be in good shape for the rest of the series.