Welcome to the Stanley Cup Playoffs Buzz, a daily in-depth look at the 2019 NHL playoffs. The Boston Bruins lead the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Final 3-0 against the Carolina Hurricanes and eye a four-game sweep with a win in Game 4 at PNC Arena.
Eastern Conference Final, Game 4
Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS): The Bruins will try to reach the Stanley Cup Final and make history in the process when they go for the sweep at PNC Arena. Since the playoffs went to a best-of-7 series for each round, there has not been a sweep in each round of a particular conference. But this season the New York Islanders swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round and the Hurricanes swept the Islanders in the second round. Carolina captain Justin Williams knows a bit about rallying from being down 3-0. He was a member of the 2014 Los Angeles Kings, who defeated the Sharks in seven games after losing the first three.
What We Learned
Here are some takeaways from Game 3 of the Western Conference Final:
Couture Mr. Clutch for Sharks
Logan Couture was the first to admit he didn't have his best game Wednesday. Maybe so, but in crunch time Couture delivered, scoring the tying goal with 1:01 remaining in the third period to send the game to overtime. The Sharks forward has put together a number of highlight-reel goals in the playoffs, but this wasn't one of them. It was a greasy one that he jammed past Blues goalie Jordan Binnington from the side of the crease. They all count. And none was bigger than this one.
Video: SJS@STL, Gm3: Couture ties game with milestone goal
Burns doesn't have to score to be effective for Sharks
It's unusual to see the Sharks score five times and defenseman Brent Burns is kept off the scoresheet. That was the case Wednesday, but Burns contributed in many other ways to help the Sharks win. He led San Jose in shifts (35) and ice time (30:57). More importantly, he finished the game plus-3 and was effective in getting the puck out of his zone on numerous occasions.
Blues best game is powerful
The Blues have shown repeatedly during the playoffs that their top gear can put opponents under great pressure. It was evident in Game 3 when they scored four second-period goals to take a 4-3 lead. Once St. Louis' persistent, physical forecheck found a rhythm, San Jose was under duress for long stretches and it led to opportunity after opportunity. The trouble with sustaining that at this juncture of the playoffs is that all teams remaining have some push to their games too, and the Sharks were able to muster a response in the third period and eventually send the game to overtime.
Big minutes taxed Blues defense
When Vince Dunn left the game with a facial injury in the first period, having played 2:13, it put the remaining five St. Louis defensemen under immense pressure. They handled it well through most of Game 3, but cracks began to appear late in the third period. When the Sharks tied the game with 1:01 remaining, they outnumbered the Blues near the goal crease because St. Louis defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester had drifted away a few feet. With Dunn out, Pietrangelo played 31:57, more than any other skater in a game that went an extra 5:23. Colton Parayko was at 29:49 and Bouwmeester at 27:51, demanding totals that couldn't have been easy.
-- Joe Thornton came up big for the Sharks in Game 3, writes staff writer Mike Zeisberger
-- The Blues know they need to turn the page on a heartbreaking loss and get ready for Game 4, writes staff writer Tim Campbell.
-- Before the Sharks won in overtime, goalie Martin Jones saved the day in the third period, writes staff writer Tracey Myers
Video: SJS@STL, Gm3: Jones denies Perron's great scoring bid
Need to know
-- The Hurricanes will lean on Williams' experience to help them deal with the possibility of being swept.
-- The Bruins, who blew a 3-0 lead in the 2010 playoffs, know how important it is to finish the series as soon as possible.
-- The Bruins will be without forward Chris Wagner for Game 4.
-- Goalie Curtis McElhinney will likely start for the Hurricanes.
-- The Hurricanes know they need their power play to produce if they are going to keep their season alive.
-- The Bruins and goalie Tuukka Rask survived an early onslaught from Carolina en route to the Game 3 win. Senior writer Dan Rosen has the story.
-- The Hurricanes were their own worst enemy in falling behind 3-0 to the Bruins, writes staff writer Tom Gulitti
-- McElhinney took over for Petr Mrazek in the Hurricanes goal and was valiant in defeat.
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