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Berube: Penguins must be aggressors in Game 5

Former NHL coach expects Pittsburgh to utilize its speed against Tampa Bay

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

For additional insight into the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL.com has enlisted the help of Craig Berube to break down the action. Berube will be checking in throughout the series.

Berube, 50, was the coach of the Philadelphia Flyers from 2013-15. He was a Flyers assistant coach for six seasons prior to being promoted to coach on Oct. 7, 2013. The Flyers were 75-58-28 under Berube. They made the Stanley Cup Playoffs and lost to the Rangers in the first round in 2014.

PITTSBURGH -- The Tampa Bay Lightning won Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final 4-3 on Friday by doing everything they didn't against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Games 2 and 3.

They attacked early and it led to a goal. They kept up their speed. They continued to apply pressure and built a 4-0 lead before the Penguins rallied in the third to make it close.

The Lightning basically did everything that former Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube said they were going to have to do to even the best-of-7 series 2-2 entering Game 5 at Consol Energy Center on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"They were the better team," Berube said. "They came out hard, got a quick goal by [Ryan] Callahan, and were physical, just on top of people. I thought they played really well for two periods. It's a normal thing in the third, you're up by four goals and the other team pushes and you kind of stop playing the way you should. That allowed Pittsburgh back in the game, but the Lightning were good."

Video: PIT@TBL, Gm4: Callahan tallies in the first minute

Berube didn't even think the Lightning needed Callahan's goal at 27 seconds of the first period to prove they were going to be a different team than in the previous two games, when they were outshot 89-49.

"They looked like they were ready to play and they were going to be aggressive from the get-go," Berube said. "To me, that's the difference."

"They didn't give Pittsburgh time to do things the way they want to do things. When you're on top of people and not giving anybody time, it takes away the speed and puck possession. The Lightning were really good without the puck in the first two periods. They didn't let Pittsburgh do much of anything."

Berube doesn't think allowing three goals in the third period will have any carryover effect for the Lightning in Game 5.

"It just has a lot to do with being up and just playing the score," Berube said. "It's a natural instinct to do that. It happens a lot."

The Penguins, though, should affect how the Lightning respond in Game 5. Berube said Game 4, if nothing else, was a reminder of how quickly things can turn on the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Not that they weren't understanding this before, but Tampa is a good team and they're not going to go quietly," Berube said. "They've been there before and they can win. I'm not saying the Penguins don't understand this or realize this, I think they do, but they now know for sure they're going to have to play their best hockey to beat this team. I expect the Penguins to get back at it in Game 5 with their aggressiveness, puck movement and speed."

Pittsburgh likely will have to get back at it without defenseman Trevor Daley, who was injured in the second period of Game 4 when he crashed into the boards and couldn't put any weight on his left leg.

Daley's status had not been updated by the Penguins as of Saturday, but he was seen walking with crutches as he left Amalie Arena after the game Friday.

If Daley can't play, Olli Maatta is the likely candidate to return to the lineup. He has been a healthy scratch the past three games.

"It's just from a speed standpoint, getting up the ice, a little more aggressiveness, that's the biggest difference, biggest loss," Berube said. "Maatta is not the same type of player as Daley.

"Olli Maatta is a good player, a proven player. He can play better than he was, so maybe sitting out a few games gets him back going, back on track. He's a good hockey player."

Video: PIT@TBL, Gm4: Malkin winds through traffic and scores

The good news for Pittsburgh is forward Evgeni Malkin finally may be heating up. He had an assist in Game 3 and scored a goal in Game 4, ending an eight-game goal drought.

"These top players that score, if they get some points they get confidence from it and they play a little looser and a little quicker," Berube said. "Malkin is going to have to push himself to get to where he was in the third period of Game 4. He's going to really have to push himself to get those opportunities."

Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin did that in Game 4 after getting demoted to the fourth line in Game 3. He scored a power-play goal at 14:38 of the second period after his aggressive backcheck helped stop Penguins forward Eric Fehr from having a clean, shorthanded breakaway.

"He reacted to what went on," Berube said. "He skated and did a great job on the backcheck and they ended up getting a goal off of it. That's just hard work. He worked hard and when he does that, when he competes, he's a very good player because his talent takes over."

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