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Game 3 is pivotal to '09 Stanley Cup Finals

Tuesday, 06.2.2009 / 12:36 PM ET / News
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Game 3 is pivotal to \'09 Stanley Cup Finals
Since the start of the Stanley Cup finals, I have talked and communicated with at least 50 people who consider themselves die-hard Pittsburgh Penguins fans.  Most felt the Penguins would be able to defeat the Red Wings in a long series and sensed a new attitude from the Penguins this time around.

Talking to many of those fans Monday night, with Pittsburgh down 0-2 to Detroit, they have no explanation why their team has failed to win a game.  When I mentioned that the Penguins are now at home for two games, most felt the Penguins would not be able to win both home games and many sounded this series would be over in five games.

Now, as a long-time hockey fan, I know better.  I know two home victories by the Penguins are possible and I may even go as far to say probable, and then we have a real series on our hands.

The home crowd tonight should be a huge advantage for the Penguins and I feel the key is for the Penguins to get out of the gate fast and establish a two-goal lead. Yes, I know that is harder to do than just saying it, but if the Penguins get an early goal lead, they need to retain an offensive mindset and continue to get to the Wings net. The more time they spend in the Wings defensive zone the harder it becomes for Detroit to score.

Now, if the Wings get the lead the Penguins need to keep their cool and become even more aggressive to force the Wings into mistakes and turnovers. By doing so, the Penguins could be playing on the edge since the winged-wheelers know how to take advantage of aggressive play and the Penguins could find themselves with a two-goal deficit, again.

So as you can see, it is imperative the Penguins get a lead and build on that lead.  By doing so, they are forcing the Wings to chase them instead of being the team that is doing the chasing.  It also allows Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to be more creative and allows them to play their game, on their terms.

Now let's get back to the Pittsburgh fans.  Remember, your team is not out of this series, but as we all know, tonight's game is the key game.  Don't fret the calls that go against your team, don't sweat the small stuff and stay behind your team throughout the night.  History tells us the home team wins Game 3, but in order to do so, the Penguins must finish their plays in the offensive zone.  Getting to the net against Detroit is not good enough, the puck needs to get to the back of the net and we will know soon enough if the Penguins and their fans are able to make the Stanley Cup Final a series again.

May the best team win tonight (they usually do) and enjoy the game.  It will be the most intense one of this series and the action will be fast and furious.  Hold on to your hats, the fun is just starting.

Please feel free to leave a comment below or email me at anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com to talk hockey.

Author: Paul Kukla | NHL.com Correspondent

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
R. Sheahan 81 14 11 -8 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80