Time: 7:30 PM Eastern Time
Location: Prudential Center
Broadcast / Streaming: SUN, GOLF, SN, TVA Sports
Opponent SBNation Site: All About The Jersey
It wasn’t much of a surprise that the Lightning lost game three. Going into the series, it was the game I marked down as expecting for the Lightning to lose. The Devils haven’t been in the playoffs since 2012. It was their first home game of the playoffs. Their arena was bound to be rocking. So I was expecting that they’d come out with a lot of jump and figure out some match-ups and jump on the Lightning to get their first win of the series.
That isn’t quite what happened. The Lightning played some really good hockey for the first forty minutes of the game and kept the game either tied or with a lead. Unfortunately, the penalty trouble they ran into in the third period killed all of their momentum and allowed the Devils to capitalize on it. The Lightning are going to have to do their best to avoid doing that again.
Another thing that game three showed is that the Devils should rename their franchise the New Jersey Taylor Halls. Without Hall, they aren’t even close to being in this series. They probably aren’t even in the playoffs without Hall, but you get my point.
Other than the two empty net goals at the end of game three, the Devils have scored eight goals. The Lightning were able to keep Hall off of the score sheet for all three goals of their second game. Of their other five goals, Hall either scored or had the primary assist on the rest. So in game one and game three, Hall either scored or assisted on every non-empty net goal. They still lost game one despite his efforts, but they wouldn’t have been in on game three if not for his performance.
With the Lightning being on the road, Jon Cooper doesn’t have the ability to control that match-up and get Brayden Point out there against Hall. He’s going to have to work with the other lines to figure out how they can match up with Hall and shut him down for game four. Make the Devils beat you with their other lines, because if you shut down Hall, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to win.
The other thing the Lightning need to do is keep their tempers in check. The fourth line got feisty after the game was pretty much over and Cory Conacher touched off a full-line brawl that got everyone on the ice a misconduct penalty for their troubles. The Lightning are not that kind of team and they’re going to need to watch out and not let any of that flare up in this game.
The Lightning still are the clearly better team. Once again, they have some things to work on, but their overall game is still more than good enough to beat the Devils tonight. They can take this game in New Jersey and bring it back to Amalie Arena on Saturday with a chance to close out the series in five games.
Closing out at least one series in less than six games before the Stanley Cup Final is something nine of the past ten Stanley Cup champions have done. The lone exception being the Los Angeles Kings who did not do that until winning the Final in five games after going seven games in all three of their previous playoff rounds.
Tampa Bay Lightning:
INJURY UPDATE: Cooper on whether Johnson will be ready to play in game four, “We hope, we’ll have to see in the morning.” He did not confirm whether or not Callahan will return and said Erne will not play in this series. #tblightning— Caley Chelios (@CaleyChelios) April 17, 2018
J.T. Miller - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - ?
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Yanni Gourde
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Matthew Peca
Victor Hedman — Anton Stralman
Ryan McDonagh — Mikhail Sergachev
Braydon Coburn — Andrej Sustr
New Jersey Devils
Taylor Hall - Nico Hischier - Kyle Palmieri
Miles Wood - Pavel Zacha - Patrick Maroon
Blake Coleman - Travis Zajac - Stefan Noesen
Michael Grabner - Brian Boyle - Brian Gibbons
Andy Greene — Sami Vatanen
John Moore — Mirco Mueller
Will Butcher — Ben Lovejoy