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Stanley Cup Final Game 4 Preview: 5 keys for Sharks, Penguins

The San Jose Sharks host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night starting at 8 p.m. ET. 

What can we expect from his pivotal game? Here are five keys:

1. Shots, And The Blockers That Block Them

The Penguins had 38 blocked shots in Game 3, after having 35 of them in the first two games combined. This became a big honkin’ narrative after the game, but Sharks coach Peter DeBoer was undaunted.

“They make a commitment to block. We've got to keep shooting. We've got to work for lanes. There's not much you can do,” he said. “It can't deter us from shooting the puck. I  think there's no bad shots for us. I think even if it gets blocked, a lot of times we can recover it. We're going to keep our shooting mentality and keep firing.”

2. Matt Murray

Was Murray the reason the Pittsburgh Penguins lost Game 3? No. But it was the rookie’s most inauspicious outing since getting pulled in Game 4 of the Tampa Bay Lightning series, especially on that back-breaking Joel Ward goal in the third period after the Penguins had nearly killed off a four-minute power-play. How does he rebound? 

3. Penguins Power-Play

Pittsburgh is 0-for-6 on the power play in the series and on an 0-for-12 skid going back to the conference final. The first problem in the conference final for this talented group is that there aren’t many power-play opportunities. The second, according to coach Mike Sullivan, is that the Penguins are establishing well in the Sharks’ zone. “I thought last night the biggest challenge that we had was on our entries. We only had one power play.  We struggled with any sort of clean entries and it limited our zone time,” he said after Game 3.

4. Expect One-Goal Game

The first three games of this series have been one-goal games. The Sharks and Penguins have been tied or within a goal for 95.3 percent of the total playing time this series. Furthermore, 13 of the last 15 games in the Stanley Cup Final have been decided by one goal. So, like, don’t miss the final two minutes and/or overtime, OK?

5. Finally, The Crowd And The Ice

The good news for the Penguins is that the heat in San Jose isn’t nearly as oppressive as it was before Game 3, but that might not mean much inside the Shark Tank when the team tends to keep the indoor temps “comfortable” for the fans.

The bad news for the Penguins is that the Tank might be even louder than it was in Game 3 now that the Sharks have renewed hope. Oh, and two members of Metallica playing the national anthem, of course. Rawk.

 

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Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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