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5 Keys: Bruins at Blues, Game 3

Top line must step up for Boston; St. Louis needs more from power play

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

BRUINS at BLUES

8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

Best-of-7 series tied 1-1

The city of St. Louis will host a Stanley Cup Final game for the first time in 49 years on Saturday, when the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins play in Game 3 at Enterprise Center.

The last time St. Louis hosted a Cup Final game was May 5, 1970, 17,924 days ago.

"It's going to be a huge day," said Blues forward Pat Maroon, who grew up in the St. Louis suburb of Oakville. "This is what we needed just to amp the city back up again."

 

[RELATED: Complete Stanley Cup Final coverage]

 

The Blues evened the series by winning Game 2 at TD Garden 3-2 on defenseman Carl Gunnarsson's goal at 3:21 of overtime. The Bruins won Game 1, 4-2.

Since 1939, when the Cup Final went to the best-of-7 format, the team that wins Game 3 with the series tied 1-1 has gone on to win the Stanley Cup 78.6 percent of the time (22 of 28).

Here are 5 keys to Game 3:

Video: News and notes ahead of a critical Game 3 of the SCF

 

1. Controlled emotion

The Blues have to be able to handle the energy from the home crowd and channel it the right way.

"They've been great to us throughout the whole [Stanley Cup] Playoffs, but the crowd can get your emotions a little off whack and you might want to make a play you won't usually," St. Louis defenseman Joel Edmundson said. "We've just got to keep it simple."

Home ice hasn't been an advantage for the Blues in the playoffs. They are 5-5 at Enterprise Center. The Bruins, meanwhile, have won four in a row on the road and are 6-2 away from home.

"We play at our best when we're on the road because we simplify things," Boston defenseman Torey Krug said. "Guys aren't worried about making things look pretty, we just do the dirty work. We take a lot of pride in being a gritty, greasy team and hopefully that's what we see tonight."

 

2. Resiliency matters, but so does a physical start

It took the winning team in the first two games until the second period to find its edge and start taking control. Considering that, it's not surprising that the team that scored first lost each game.

The Blues feel if they stay physical on the Bruins it will wear on them and no matter if they give up the first goal, they will be able to respond. The Bruins, not surprisingly, feel the same way, especially considering the outcomes of Games 1 and 2.

"We want to tire them out, the forwards get the puck deep, wear their D down," Edmundson said. "It's a 60-minute game for a reason, so if we do that for 50 minutes, they might be tired in the last 10."

 

3. Paging Boston's best

Boston's top forward line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak has zero points at even strength and a minus-7 rating in the series.

It's not the first time they have been limited in the playoffs. They were held to one point, a goal from Pastrnak when he was on a shift with third-line forwards Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson, in the first three games of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak answered by combining for 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in the next seven games leading into the Cup Final. The Bruins expect them to respond in Game 3, but they have to be stronger on the puck and better at possessing it in the offensive zone.

"They've done a decent job down low, had a few looks, haven't gone in for them," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "Eventually they will go in. That's kind of how I feel it's going with them."

Video: Bruins excel as they play further into a series

 

4. Blues need more from power play

The Blues are 0-for-5 on the power play against the Bruins, who have killed 18 straight penalties since Game 1 of the conference final against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Blues center Ryan O'Reilly said if they move the puck quicker in the zone, it could open shooting lanes that haven't opened up yet because they've been either too stagnant on the power play or taking shots the Bruins can read for blocks.

 

5. Forechecking mastery

The team that has forechecked better has won each game in the series. The forecheck has curbed breakouts for the opposition, leading to puck possession, especially low in the offensive zone, which forces the opposition to tire out defending, creating a challenge to change the momentum.

It likely will stand throughout the series that the team that forechecks better, St. Louis with its physicality and Boston with its speed, will win.

 

Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk -- David Krejci -- David Backes

Marcus Johansson -- Charlie Coyle -- Danton Heinen

Joakim Nordstrom -- Sean Kuraly -- Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara -- Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug -- Brandon Carlo

John Moore -- Connor Clifton

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Steven Kampfer, Karson Kuhlman

Injured: Matt Grzelcyk (upper body) Chris Wagner (upper body), Kevan Miller (lower body)

 

Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Brayden Schenn -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Sammy Blais -- Ryan O'Reilly -- David Perron

Pat Maroon -- Tyler Bozak -- Robby Fabbri

Zach Sanford -- Ivan Barbashev -- Alexander Steen

Carl Gunnarsson -- Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester -- Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson -- Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington

Jake Allen

Scratched: Michael Del Zotto, Mackenzie MacEachern, Chris Thorburn , Ville Husso

Injured: Vince Dunn (upper body), Robert Thomas (undisclosed)

Suspended: Oskar Sundqvist

 

Status report

Moore replaces Grzelcyk, who did not travel to St. Louis because he's in Boston going through the NHL concussion protocol. Grzelcyk was injured when Sundqvist hit him from behind into the boards, his head hitting the glass, at 17:54 of the first period in Game 2. ... Sundqvist will miss the game serving a one-game suspension for the hit. Sanford, who grew up a Bruins fan living in New Hampshire, will replace him. Sanford has been scratched for the past 18 games and hasn't played since Game 3 against the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference First Round on April 14. … Thomas will miss his second straight game.

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