The San Jose Sharks are looking to even the Stanley Cup Final at two games a piece, while the Pittsburgh Penguins look to take a 3-1 series lead. Game 4 will be on Monday night on NBCSN at 8 p.m.
Here are five keys to Game 4:
1) Fast Start
The Sharks haven’t been getting off to the best starts in the three games that have been played in the series. They’ve been letting the Penguins establish the forecheck and have a ton of offensive zone time. San Jose will need to feed off the crowd’s energy and be involved in the game early, whether that means making a big play or just spending time in the offensive zone. The Sharks need to have their skating legs early in the game to beat the Penguins to loose pucks and get their transition game going with some odd man rushes.
2) Establish the Forecheck Early
San Jose needs to get the forecheck established early in the game. They’ll need it to get some sustained offensive pressure to try and get the first goal of the game. The first lead of the series for the Sharks came at the end of the overtime session when they beat the Pens 3-2 in Game 3. The forwards need to get in on the forecheck, hit the Penguins defenders, tie up their man and have better support so they can win those board battles to have a successful forecheck. If a Sharks’ defenseman can’t get the puck to the net, then just get it down behind the net and let the forwards get in on the forecheck and battle for the puck.
3) Draw More Penalties
It’s hard to draw a lot of penalties when you’re constantly playing from behind, but the Sharks need to do exactly that. They had the number one power play coming into the Final, and they need to use their speed and forecheck to draw more penalties to get more shots on net and test the Penguins penalty kill. The Penguins penalty kill hasn’t exactly been tested with only having to kill six penalties through three games. The Sharks are getting outplayed at even strength for the most part in this series, so start drawing more penalties so the power play has a chance to score some goals.
4) Power Play
Pittsburgh has the opposite problem as San Jose, they’ve been good at even-strength, but can’t manage anything on the power play. They’ve had their chances, but shots are either going high and wide or Martin Jones is getting a piece of their chances. The Penguins have only had six power play opportunities in the series. When they do have the man advantage, it looks like they are trying to make the perfect play and hesitating instead of taking the shot. The Penguins power play units just need to get shots to the net and have someone screening Jones so those chances are tough for him to see.
5.) Get Malkin Going Offensively
Evgeni Malkin has yet to score a point in three games of the Stanley Cup Final. The Sharks have done an okay job defending him, but Malkin seems to be passing up the shot and looking for the perfect play. If he has a chance to get the puck on net then he needs to take it and not pass it up. He has eight shots on goal in the three games of the series. Malkin has scored no goals in his past six postseason games and has only scored once in the last 15 games. He has been good on face-offs and in his own zone, but he needs to step it up offensively if he wants to see his team win the Stanley Cup.