The Tampa Bay Lightning will be looking to even the Eastern Conference Final at two games a piece, while the Pittsburgh Penguins look to go up 3-1 in the series. Game 4 will be played on Friday, May 20 at 8 p.m. (ET) on NBCSN.
Here are five keys to Game 4:
1.) Avoid Turnovers/Sloppy Play
The Lightning have been turning over the puck too much in their own zone or neutral zone. They will have to cutback on the turnovers if they want to even this series. It wouldn’t be as bad if those turnovers weren’t leading to scoring chances or goals for the Penguins, but that is exactly what is happening. The Penguins have taken full advantage of the turnovers and sloppy play of the Bolts in their own zone so far this series. The forwards and defense of Tampa Bay need to support each other and move the puck quick to get it out of their own end. The Penguins forwards have been doing a great job of getting in on the forecheck to force a lot of those turnovers.
2.) Stop the ‘HBK’ Line
Tampa Bay will need to figure out a way to slow down the red hot line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel. The ‘HBK’ line has a combined 39 points in 14 postseason games. The players that Jon Cooper chooses to matchup against that line can slow them down by spending more time attacking and cycling in the offensive zone instead of defending in their own zone. The Bolts can also slow down the trio by nullifying plays in the neutral zone or getting sticks in the passing and shooting lanes like they did in Game 1. It will be a tall order to try to keep them off the board since the line has been on absolute fire during the postseason.
3.) Take Advantage of Opportunities
If a Lightning player has a chance to get the puck to the net then he needs to take the shot, and not look for the pass. If there is an odd man rush and the puck carrier has the shot then he needs to take it and hope that his teammates keep driving to the net looking for a rebound chance. Tampa also needs to be better while on the man advantage. They need to have speed through the neutral zone to get setup and once setup have quick puck movement to go along with player movement. Tampa Bay also needs to get someone in front of the net to screen the goalie.
4.) Another Solid Road Game
Pittsburgh needs to play like they did in Game 3. The Penguins will need to get in on the forecheck and force turnovers. They’ll need to make the Lightning defense make quick decisions with the puck while under pressure. They should continue to use their speed and quickness to get to loose pucks and create scoring chances.
5.) Weather the Storm
Tampa Bay is going to have the home ice advantage so look for them to come out ready to play. In Game 3, they played really well in the offensive zone and had a ton of chances, but then the Penguins took over from there. The Bolts will be trying to push the pace and get that first goal and take the lead into the first intermission. If the Pens can weather the storm like they did in Game 3, then they should have a good chance at taking a 3-1 series lead.