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5 Keys: Penguins at Blue Jackets, Game 3

Pittsburgh hopes for strong defensive effort; Columbus looks to respond without Matt Calvert

by Craig Merz / Correspondent


6 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN360, TVA Sports 2, FS-O, ROOT

Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series 2-0


COLUMBUS -- The Pittsburgh Penguins have withstood every challenge by the Columbus Blue Jackets to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference First Round series going into Game 3 at Nationwide Arena on Sunday.

The Blue Jackets hope a return to their home rink, where they were 28-12-1 during the regular season, will turn the series.


[RELATED: Complete Blue Jackets vs. Penguins series coverage]


Here are 5 keys for Game 3:


1. Penguins block party

The Blue Jackets had 139 shot attempts in the first two games but had trouble getting them by the Penguins, who had 45 blocked shots. The Penguins have been willing to do whatever it takes to protect goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

"You want to make sure you're in good position and you're doing it smartly," Penguins defenseman Ian Cole said. "You want to make sure you're not screening the goalie. If you're going to screen the goalie you better bock the shot. That's what my mentality is."

Video: CBJ@PIT, Gm2: Fleury handles a tough redirection


2. Replacing Matt Calvert

Sonny Milano, called up from Cleveland of the American Hockey League on Saturday, is expected to replace Matt Calvert, who was suspended one game for cross-checking Tom Kuhnhackl in Game 2. 

Calvert scored in Game 1. In Game 2 of the 2014 Eastern Conference First Round series against the Penguins, he scored the overtime goal to give Columbus its first-ever playoff win.

Calvert has been valuable on the penalty kill and had three shorthanded goals to tie Cam Atkinson for the Blue Jackets lead this season. 

Milano, who played four games for the Blue Jackets this season, will make his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut.


3. Penguins don't panic

The Blue Jackets must try to shake the confidence of the defending Stanley Cup champions.

"We're playing physical and were getting pucks to the net and creating chances that way, but the way to rattle a team is to get a win," Columbus center Sam Gagner said. 

Pittsburgh has scored timely goals. In the series opener Columbus had a 16-3 shot advantage during a scoreless first period but the Penguins scored three times in the second period and took a 3-0 lead into the third.

In Game 2, Brandon Saad tied the score at 1-1 at 7:00 of the second period for Columbus, but Jake Guentzel scored 51 seconds later for Pittsburgh.

Video: CBJ@PIT, Gm2: Guentzel buries Crosby's nice feed


4. Getting closer to scoring

The Blue Jackets spent much of the 3-1 loss in Game 1 on the perimeter and were unable or unwilling to go to the hard areas. Of their 60 shot attempts, they had 13 from inside the faceoff circles.

Columbus had 33 of 79 attempts from close range during the 4-1 loss in Game 2. 

"I still think we need to continue to try and develop more quality chances," Columbus coach John Tortorella said. "We were much better [Friday] but as the series goes on no matter where you stand winning or losing you have to try and continue to get better in all areas." 


5. Take advantage of home ice

The ace card for Columbus is playing in Nationwide Arena, where they had success this season.

"They'll be desperate, they'll be fired up," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "A lot of us have been in those games before. They're a physical team so I'm sure they'll try and establish that early."


Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby -- Conor Sheary 

Bryan Rust -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel 

Scott Wilson -- Nick Bonino -- Patric Hornqvist 

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Matt Cullen -- Carter Rowney 

Brian Dumoulin -- Ron Hainsey 

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz 

Olli Maatta -- Trevor Daley 

Marc-Andre Fleury 

Tristan Jarry 

Scratched: Cameron Gaunce, Josh Archibald, Mark Streit, Tom Sestito

Injured: Matt Murray (lower body), Kris Letang (upper body), Carl Hagelin (lower body), Chris Kunitz (lower body), Chad Ruhwedel (upper body)

Blue Jackets projected lineup

Brandon Saad -- Alexander Wennberg -- Nick Foligno 

Boone Jenner -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Cam Atkinson 

Scott Hartnell -- Sam Gagner -- Oliver Bjorkstrand 

Sonny Milano -- William Karlsson -- Josh Anderson 

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones 

Jack Johnson -- David Savard 

Scott Harrington -- Gabriel Carlsson 

Sergei Bobrovsky 

Joonas Korpisalo 

Scratched: Lauri Korpikoski, Kyle Quincey, Markus Nutivaara, Anton Forsberg

Suspended: Matt Calvert

Injured: David Clarkson (back), Ryan Murray (hand), Lukas Sedlak (upper body)


Status report

Forsberg was called up from Cleveland on Saturday to be the third goaltender.


Who's hot

Guentzel has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his past 10 games dating to the regular season. ... Crosby had one goal and two assists in Game 2.

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