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Berube: Sullivan's decisions benefited Penguins

Former Flyers coach says uniting Crosby, Malkin, sticking with Murray factored in Game 2 win against Lightning

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.

TAMPA -- In analyzing Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final, former Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube noted two decisions made by Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan that may not have directly influenced the outcome, but instead influenced the momentum in the game and the Penguins' overall confidence.

The first was putting Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin together on the same line for a shift midway through the second period of the Penguins' 3-2 overtime win against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The two centers immediately created a spark as Malkin set up Crosby for a scoring chance that was negated only by Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy's glove save on Crosby's backhand.

The Penguins arguably took the game over from there, and were especially dominant in the third period and overtime, outshooting the Lightning 19-6 in that 20:40. Crosby scored in overtime to even the best-of-7 series at 1-1.

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm2: Crosby goes top-shelf to win it in OT

"I think Mike is thinking he wasn't getting enough from Crosby and Malkin so he was going to give them way more opportunity to perform," Berube said. "It worked out for them."

The second was a decision that required Sullivan to do nothing at all.

Instead of changing goalies after rookie Matt Murray gave up a far-too-easy game-tying goal to Jonathan Drouin at 19:10 of the first period, Sullivan stuck with the 21-year-old. Murray didn't allow another goal on 13 shots.

"The kid is a battler, obviously," Berube said. "He let that goal in and it could have went the other way, but it didn't and that's important."

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm2: Drouin ties the game with perfect shot

So, looking ahead to Game 3 at Amalie Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), Berube expects more of the same.

He doesn't think Sullivan will go to the Malkin-Crosby well often, but he expects to see them together when the moment is right and the situation dictates it, such as a faceoff in the offensive zone when the Penguins might need an offensive spark.

"I think if you do it at the right times during the game and throughout a series and it can be very effective," Berube said. "It's about trying to get them going more. They've been stagnant. They're playing fine, but we look at them as offensive people, scoring and making plays and creating offense. I don't think they are doing enough, so putting them together gives them more opportunity to perform."

Even though Murray has allowed five goals on 41 shots in the series for a .878 save percentage, Berube fully expects to see him in net again for Game 3.

"Yeah, I don't believe it's a decision after the win [Monday] night and what he did after the [Drouin] goal," Berube said.

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm2: Murray and Hagelin keep the game tied

But Berube also doesn't think the Penguins will have it as easy as they had it in Game 2, when they controlled the pace and the puck and outshot the Lightning 41-21. He's banking on the Lightning being better in Game 3 and cited the possible return of forward Ryan Callahan as a difference.

Callahan missed Game 2 with the flu. There was no update on his condition from Lightning coach Jon Cooper on Tuesday.

"He's an energy guy, a hard working guy," Berube said. "He brings energy to the team and to their game. He's a tough loss. They did really miss him."

Without him, Berube said the Lightning "seemed to not have their skating legs, didn't really seem to have a whole lot of jump in their game, and that's what made Pittsburgh look really good."

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