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5 Keys: Lightning at Penguins, Game 2

Tampa Bay needs to be more disciplined; Pittsburgh waiting for Crosby, Malkin to break out

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning play Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final at Consol Energy Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Tampa Bay leads the best-of-7 series 1-0.

Here are 5 Keys for Game 2: 


Although the Lightning were outshot 35-20 in Game 1, they were better at handling the puck and didn't feed the Penguins' speed with turnovers that led to a lot of odd-man rushes. The Penguins controlled play for long stretches, but were sloppy with the puck and in their decision making in the offensive zone, which led to some quality counterattack scoring chances the Lightning cashed in on.

"We just have to make some better reads, some better decisions," Penguins center Nick Bonino said. "They're quick out of their zone and if we commit too many guys, they're going to go the other way. They had a breakaway and a 3-on-1, and they capitalized on both."

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm1: Bishop stones Malkin, freezes the puck


Will this be the game the Penguins star centers finally break out? Sidney Crosby had a power-play assist in Game 1, but has no goals in his past eight games and one even-strength point in his past seven. Evgeni Malkin had seven shots on goal and 17 shot attempts in Game 1, but has no points in his past five games. Judging from practice Sunday, it appears Penguins coach Mike Sullivan will flip the right wings on his top two lines, putting Patric Hornqvist with Malkin and Bryan Rust with Crosby.

Rust's speed on the wing might open things up for Crosby, who faced Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman for most of his even-strength shifts. Malkin had more room and more chances in Game 1, so maybe having Hornqvist going to the front of the net will lead to goals on tips or rebounds.

"You just try to keep working, keep doing the same things," Crosby said. "You look at series in the past, you look at the playoffs, it's very common for guys to have trouble finding the net at different points in the playoffs and you've got to get through that. You have to find ways to produce and be good in other areas, too. There's more to winning games sometimes than just specifically that."


Lightning backup goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy came off the bench after Ben Bishop was injured in the first period of Game 1 and earned his second career win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (both in relief) by making 25 saves. Although the Lightning say Bishop's left leg injury is not as serious as it initially appeared, he won't play in Game 2, which means Vasilevskiy, 21, will make his second career postseason start. 

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm1: Vasilevskiy moves left to deny Crosby

The Penguins have had two days to prepare to face him, so they should know his tendencies a little better. Plus, how will Vasilevskiy handle knowing he's the man in net for now for the Lightning?


Despite Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper's repeated pleas about staying out of the penalty box, the Lightning have been shorthanded an NHL-high 47 times in the playoffs and would be playing with fire if that continues. The Penguins' lone goal in Game 1 came on the power play and, though they missed on an early opportunity to take control of the game by failing to convert during Ryan Callahan's five-minute boarding major, they have scored at least one power-play goal in each of their past three games (4-for-9).

"You always want to cut down [the number of penalties] regardless of the team you're playing," Lightning center Tyler Johnson said. "But, when you look at [the Penguins] and the power-play units and how they can move the puck around, they do a tremendous job. Luckily for us, our penalty kill was on point last game, but you don't want to rely on them too much."

The Penguins also want to stay away from unneeded penalties such as Malkin's offensive zone hooking minor in the second period. The rebound goal Ondrej Palat scored on the resulting power play turned out to be game-winner.

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm1: Palat doubles Lightning's lead with PPG


Hedman demonstrated in Game 1 how he can control the game at each end of the ice. His long pass set up Alex Killorn's breakaway goal that opened the scoring and he held Crosby in check on the defensive side. Among the topics the Penguins discussed in their meeting Sunday was trying to limit how much of a factor Hedman is offensively. 

"We've got to try to make it a hard game for him," Sullivan said. "We've got to force him to have to go through people. We've got to try to break his momentum every opportunity we can so that he has to work for every inch of ice."

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