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Penguins aim for 3-1 stranglehold on Lightning

by Mike G. Morreale
(Pittsburgh leads best-of-seven series, 2-1)

Big story: The Penguins regained home-ice advantage on Monday following a hard-fought 3-2 win at St. Pete Times Forum. Despite the victory, Pittsburgh is defying the odds as the team has yet to click on the power play in 15 opportunities while yielding four power-play goals on 11 chances given to Tampa Bay. While the power play has been relatively non-existent without injured stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins' resiliency shines through. The team has scored seven 5-on-5 goals from six different players.
Each team will have some roster decisions to make prior to puck drop after the NHL levied one-game suspensions to Tampa Bay forward Steve Downie and Pittsburgh forward Chris Kunitz for separate incidents in Game 3.
Team Scope:
Penguins: Make no mistake about it, the play of the Penguins' fourth line has been nothing short of remarkable since the start of the playoffs. Veteran Craig Adams centering Mike Rupp and Arron Asham has actually accounted for three of the team's seven goals in this series. Asham leads the team with 2 goals, but the line has accounted for 5 points and an astounding plus-9 rating through three contests.
"I think we've played pretty well as a group and Rupper and Ash worked a great goal (on Monday)," Adams said. "I think everyone is playing with intensity but that's the nature of playoff hockey."

Lightning: The Lightning are in dire need of some secondary scoring outside Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, who have accounted for four of the team's seven goals in this series. Steven Stamkos, who finished second in the NHL with 45 goals and ranked fifth with 91 points during the regular season, will need to find his niche very soon. The third-season center did win 7 of his 13 faceoffs (54 percent), generated a playoff-best 3 shots on goal and notched his first career playoff point -- an assist -- in the first period on Monday.
"It's something that has been too prolonged for my liking, but at the same time I've picked up other aspects of my game that are going to need to be there to be successful in the playoffs so I'm happy where those parts of my game are at," Stamkos said. "Now I'm just trying to find a healthy combination of the both to move forward and help this team win."
Who's hot:
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang doled out 5 hits, took 5 shots and chipped in with 2 assists in a 3-2 victory in Game 3 on Monday. Meanwhile, fourth-line right wing Asham has 3 points and a plus-3 rating in three playoff games. … Tampa Bay goalie Dwayne Roloson, despite losing two of three games against the Pens, sports a 2.02 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.
Injury report:
Defensemen Randy Jones (ankle), Marc-Andre Bergeron and Matt Smaby (lower body) skated on Monday but remain day-to-day. Left wing Ryan Malone suffered an upper-body injury on the opening shift of Game 3 and was limited to 11:12 of ice time. He is probable for Wednesday's Game 4. … Crosby skated with the team on Tuesday and worked on the power play but remains out.
Stat pack: The Penguins have now won six straight Game 3s and are 10-1 in them dating back to the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The club is 32-18 all-time in the third game of a playoff series, including 20-8 on the road.
Puck drop: "(Pittsburgh) has been playing like this since the all-star break and they've learned to play without those two guys (Crosby and Malkin)," Lightning forward Simon Gagne said. "They play a little bit of a different style than when Malkin and Crosby are in the lineup, but even without them they are one of the best teams in the league, so no, we're not surprised by the way they play. They're very dangerous."

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