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Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz: Sharks, Blues set for Game 3

San Jose needs depth scoring; St. Louis looks to improve at home with series tied

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Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2019 NHL playoffs. The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues will play Game 3 of the Western Conference Final on Wednesday. The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1.

Western Conference Final, Game 3

San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS): The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1 and shifts to Enterprise Center for Game 3. The road has not been kind to the Sharks, who are 2-4 away from SAP Center during the playoffs, including two losses in a row against the Colorado Avalanche in the second round. San Jose has allowed 21 goals in six road games (an average of 3.5 per game), and have scored 12 (an average of two per game). The Blues haven't been great at home, going 3-4, scoring 15 goals (an average of 2.14 per game) and allowing 19 (average of 2.7 per game). 

 

Need to know

-- Depth scoring has been a major factor in the first two games of this series, writes staff writer Tracey Myers. 

-- Jordan Binnington's path to the NHL began back when he was 7 years old and his club team was in need of a goalie. Staff writer Mike Zeisberger has the story. 

-- The Sharks know what they need to do to win this series: score more goals , writes Zeisberger.

 

Eastern Conference Final

The Boston Bruins defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finalon Tuesday to take a 3-0 series lead. Here are some takeaways from that game: 

 

Rask remains unflappable for Bruins

Tuukka Rask was unquestionably the difference in the Bruins surviving the first period of Game 3. He made 20 saves, including 10 in the first 5:48. It might have been his best period of the playoffs considering the push from the Hurricanes and the lack of pushback from Boston. The thing is, Rask's 35-save performance in Game 3 has become the expectation for him in the playoffs. Rask has won six consecutive starts, allowing nine goals in the process for a .956 save percentage. He is 11-5 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in the playoffs. He has allowed more than three goals once, more than two goals five times, twice in the past 12 games. There's little debate about his candidacy for the Conn Smythe Trophy at this time.

 

Bruins' fourth line makes a difference

Boston got another goal from its fourth line, the second from forward Chris Wagner in the series. Wagner's goal came 1:21 into the second period, after the Bruins finished off a lifeless power play at the end of a brutal first period. The goal sprung Boston back to life and it got going after that, dominating along the way. Wagner's goal, though, was only part of the difference the fourth line made in Game 3. It was in control of the puck almost every time it was on the ice in even-strength situations. It applied pressure and consistently kept the puck deep. Center Sean Kuraly led the Bruins with seven shots on goal and nine total shot attempts. The line, which also includes forward Joakim Nordstrom, had 14 shot attempts, the same as Boston's top line, which had the power play to generate some of its attempts. The Hurricanes have no answer for the Bruins' fourth line because, simply put, they're not as deep.

Video: Johnston, Jaffe wrap up another tough loss for Canes

 

McElhinney was right choice for Hurricanes

Starting Curtis McElhinney in goal after Petr Mrazek struggled in the first two games of the series turned out to be a good decision for Carolina. McElhinney made 29 saves and his patience and calm demeanor carried over to his teammates, particularly in the second period when they were outshot 18-6. He could not be faulted on either Boston goal and kept the Hurricanes within 2-1 heading into the third period with several key saves, including one with his catching glove on defenseman  Torey Krug from the left circle with 1:08 remaining in the second. Another performance like that in Game 4 would give Carolina a chance to stay alive in the series.

 

Carolina power play isn't working

The Hurricanes are 5-for-50 on the power play during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, though their futility didn't hurt them in the first two rounds. In fact, they swept the New York Islanders in the second round despite going 1-for-13 with the man advantage; the one goal was shot into the net by the Islanders. But Carolina's struggles on the power play against Boston (1-for-12 in the series) have been costly, particularly Thursday. The Hurricanes had four power plays in the first period, including a 4-on-3 for 1:09 and a 5-on-3 advantage for 45 seconds, and couldn't convert. Those missed chances became magnified when forward Brad Marchand scored what turned out to be the winning goal on a Bruins power play, which is 5-for-12 in the series and has produced the winning goal in two of the three games.

 

Quick links

-- Rask is having fun this postseason, Bruins Hall of Fame goalie Gerry Cheevers says. Columnist Dave Stubbs talked to Cheevers this week. 

- Rask and the Bruins survived an early onslaught from Carolina en route to the Game 3 win. Senior writer Dan Rosen has the story. 

- Carolina was its own worst enemy in falling behind 3-0 to Boston, writes staff writer Tom Gulitti 

- McElhinney took over for Mrazek in the Hurricanes goal and was valiant in defeat, writes senior director of editorial Shawn P. Roarke.

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