2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Eastern Conference Finals – Game #3
#2 Pittsburgh Penguins at #2 Tampa Bay Lightning
Best of Seven Series Tied 1-1
Amalie Arena – Tampa Bay, Florida
Wednesday, May 18, 2016, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC Sports
Opening Line: Penguins -130 / Lightning +110
Current Line: Penguins -130 / Lightning +110
Opening Total: over 5 -110 / under 5 -110
Current Total: over 5 -145 / under 5 +125
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins split the first two games in Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference Finals. Tampa Bay won game one 3-1 and Pittsburgh won game two 3-2 in overtime Monday night. Now, the series switches to Tampa Bay for the next two games, starting with game three Wednesday night.
Pittsburgh is coached by Mike Sullivan. The Penguins finished second in the Metropolitan Division with 104 points. Pittsburgh dominated the New York Rangers in 5 games in the first round. The Penguins outscored the Rangers 21-10 in the series. Pittsburgh upset the Washington Capitals in six games in the second round. Five of the six games were decided by one goal including 3 overtime games. Pittsburgh is 57-30-4-4 this season and the total is 41-36-18 this season.
Tampa Bay is coached by Jon Cooper. The Lightning finished second in the Atlantic Division with 97 points behind the Panthers who had 103 points. The defending Eastern Conference champion dispatched the Detroit Red Wings in five games in the first round. The Lightning lost game one against the New York Islanders but then won four straight games to return to the Eastern Conference Finals. Tampa Bay is 55-33-2-3 and the total is 37-44-14 this season.
In game one Tampa goalie Ben Bishop suffered a knee injury and was carted off the ice in the first period. He missed game two and is out for game three also. Andrei Vasilevskiy started in place of Bishop in the net. The first period of game two was wild as each team scored twice. Pittsburgh scored two goals in the first ten minutes of the period on goals from Matt Cullen and Phil Kessel. Anton Stralman and Jonathan Drouin scored for Tampa Bay in the last four minutes of the first. Neither team would score again in regulation. Sidney Crosby scored the game winner 40 seconds into the first overtime for the Penguins. It was the first time in nine games that Crosby had scored a goal. Pittsburgh dominated with 41 shots to 21 for Tampa Bay. Each team won 33 faceoffs. The Lightning were 0/1 on the power play and the Penguins were 0/2.
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Pittsburgh is outscoring teams 3.15-2.31 in the playoffs. The Penguins average 33.7 shots per game and opponents average 33.5 per game. Pittsburgh is 12/46 (26.1%) on the power play in the playoffs and 37/45 (82.2%) on the penalty kill. The Penguins have one short handed goal and has allowed one as well.
Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury missed the first two rounds with a concussion. He is healthy but will likely not play barring injuries. Back-ups Matt Murray and Jeff Zatkoff split time in the net for the Penguins. Murray is 8-3 in the playoffs with a 2.14 goals against average. He has made 308 of 332 saves (.928) with one shutout. Zatkoff is 1-1 with a 3.07 GAA. He has made 59/65 saves (.908). Murray will continue to start barring injury.
Phil Kessel has 14 points with eight assists. Center Sidney Crosby has 12 points in the playoffs including 8 assists. Nick Bonino has 11 points with 9 assists. Evgeni Malkin has 9 points with 6 assists. Kris Letang has 9 points with 8 assists. Carl Hagelin has 9 points with 5 assists. Patric Hornqvist has nine points with 6 goals in the playoffs. Five other players have at least 5 points in the playoffs. Right wing Beau Bennett is out with a shoulder injury. Left wing Scott Wilson and center Kevin Porter are both out indefinitely.
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Tampa Bay is outscoring teams 2.92-1.92 this season. The Lightning average 28 shots per game and opponents average 31.1 per game. Tampa Bay is 8/45 (17.8%) on the power play and 43/49 (87.8%) on the penalty kill. The Lightning have not scored or allowed a short handed goal.
Bishop is 8-2 in the playoffs with a 1.85 GAA. He has made 279/297 (.939) saves with two shutouts. Vasilevskiy is 1-1 and has a GAA of 1.74. He has made 71/75 saves (.947).
Tyler Johnson has 13 points with 9 assists. Nikita Kucherov has 12 points with 9 goals, including 4 on the power play. Alex Killorn has 10 points with 4 goals. Jonathan Drouin has 11 points with eight assists. Three other players have at least 6 points. Center Steven Stamkos is out indefinitely with an arm injury. Defenseman Mattias Ohlund is out indefinitely with a knee injury.
Pittsburgh is 14-3 after allowing 2 goals or less, 23-5 on one day rest, 17-4 against teams with winning records, 4-1 against Atlantic teams, 11-3 in road games, 16-6 after a win, 37-15 overall, 36-16 against Eastern Conference teams, 2-5 in Wednesday games, and 1-5 in Conference Final games. The over is 19-6-4 in this series recently, including 6-1 in Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay is 5-1 against Metropolitan teams, against teams with winning records, overall and against Eastern Conference teams, 4-1 on one day rest, and after scoring 2 goals or less, 15-5 in Wednesday games, 66-31 at home, and 1-4 against teams with winning road records. The home team is 7-2 in this series recently. The Lightning have won four of the last five against the Penguins.
It wasn’t Vasilevskiy’s fault that Tampa lost game two. He was brilliant making 38 saves. Tampa just couldn’t find many shooting lanes. I think it will be different at home. I like the Lightning to win a close game at home.
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