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Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Hurricanes, Bruins set for Game 3

Carolina mum on starting goalie; Boston looks to extend postseason winning streak to six

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Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2019 NHL playoffs. The Eastern Conference Final resumes with Game 3 at PNC Arena on Tuesday. The Boston Bruins lead the best-of-7 series 2-0.

On tap

Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS): The good news for the Hurricanes is they are 5-0 at home this postseason and came back to defeat the Washington Capitals in the first round after losing the first two games on the road. The bad news? The Bruins have won five straight postseason games and have outscored Carolina 10-2 since the second period of Game 1.

 

Need to know

-- Will Petr Mrazek or Curtis McElhinney start Game 3 for the Hurricanes? Coach Rod Brind'Amour says he doesn't want to be that guy to ruin the surprise, so we won't find out until warmups. Senior writer Dan Rosen has the story. 

-- What goes into deciding the starting goalie? Staff writer Tom Gulitti takes a look at the process.

-- The Bruins are confident, but not overconfident, heading into Game 3, team president Cam Neely said. Staff writer Amalie Benjamin reports. 

-- Are the Hurricanes mentally fatigued? Brind'Amour seems to think so and is looking for a spark at home in Game 3. 

-- The Bruins have not been able to cross winning the Stanley Cup off their list yet this season, but they did get their own plane Monday. 

-- Center Jordan Staal is providing the Hurricanes with needed leadership heading into Game 3.

 

Western Conference Final

The St. Louis Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-2 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final at SAP Center on Monday. The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1 with Game 3 at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Wednesday. 

Here is staff writer David Satriano's recap of Game 2.

 
What We Learned

Here are some takeaways from Game 2 of the Western Conference Final:

 

Sharks need more from third line

The Sharks' third line was excellent in Game 1 of the second round against the Colorado Avalanche. Center Joe Thornton had one goal and one assist, forward Kevin Labanc scored a goal, and forward Marcus Sorensen had two assists in a 5-2 win. Since then? Thornton (one assist) and Labanc (one goal) each has one point in the past eight games, and Sorensen has gone seven games without a point. "We've got another level, I think," Thornton said.

 

San Jose can't put two wins together

For three straight series, the Sharks have won Game 1 and lost Game 2 at home and have not won consecutive games within a series since the first round. The good news is they have been through this before and won two series. "We've been resilient all year," Thornton said. "This isn't going to deter us by any means." The bad news is they haven't played well consistently. Even in the first round against the Vegas Golden Knights, they were down 3-1 in the series, and though they won three in a row, they didn't exactly dominate. They needed 58 saves from Martin Jones in a 2-1 double-overtime win in Game 6, then needed an epic comeback from down 3-0 in the third period in a 5-4 overtime win in Game 7.

 

Binnington continues to bounce back after Blues losses

Goalie Jordan Binnington could not be blamed for St. Louis' 6-3 loss in Game 1. One goal came off a 2-on-1; a second on a partial breakaway and a third was banked in off his own defenseman, Vince Dunn. Nevertheless, he said there were aspects of his game he needed to work on. He'd never played at SAP Center before and noted how bouncy the kicker boards were. He was not caught off guard in Game 2, controlling pucks off the boards much better and looking far more comfortable in the hostile environment. Even after San Jose center Logan Couture scored twice in 1:59 midway through the second period, Binnington was not rattled, did not allow another goal and has displayed remarkable composure. Binnington, who made 24 saves, is 4-2 and has allowed 12 goals in six starts following defeats during the postseason.

Video: Binnington makes 24 saves in Blues' Game 2 victory

 

Berube's adjustments pay off for Blues 

Coach Craig Berube felt St. Louis was too spread out in Game 1 and left far too many passing lanes and skating gaps for the Sharks to exploit. There were far less of those in Game 2. San Jose was limited to 26 shots, many of those coming from the perimeter. The Blues also know how to close games when they see the finish line. In six road playoff victories they have not allowed a third-period goal.

 

Quick links

-- Couture scored two goals, but isn't happy how the Sharks have been playing, writes columnist Nicholas J. Cotsonika 

-- Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo picked the right time to score his first Stanley Cup Playoff goal. Staff writer Mike Zeisberger has the story.

 

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