Pittsburgh Penguins: Top 5 Changes Pens Must Make to Move Past First Round

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Apr 20, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Patric Hornqvist (72) skates with the puck as New York Rangers left wing Tanner Glass (15) and center Dominic Moore (28) chase during the second period in game three of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

2. Increased first-period shooting

In games as close as these, a hot start becomes all the more crucial in establishing the tone of the game and setting a certain battle level.

The Pens have come up short in terms of starting hot thus far, as their first-period numbers display a problematic pattern.

In Games One, Two, and Three, the Pens racked up only 5, 5, and 3 shots, respectively, in said games’ first periods.

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The Pens’ lone victory came in the one contest that saw them outshoot New York in the first period (5-3). In the first and third installments, however, the Rangers piled up 20 collective first period shots to Pittsburgh’s 8.

New York’s quick starts have also enabled them to open the scoring in all three games, as the club boasts four first-period goals thus far, while Pittsburgh has scored none.

As was the case in Game Two, outshooting their opponent paid dividends not only in terms of its effect on the opposing team, but also in how it affected the Penguins themselves. Avoiding the tentativeness that stems from feeling overwhelmed by their opponents, the Pens found themselves able to unleash their offense in Game Two, posting four goals and earning a much-needed win.

If Pittsburgh can move past their tendency to over-pass and under-shoot in the early goings of Game Four, they could similarly avoid having to spend most of the game fighting back from behind, and may, in turn, be able to swing the momentum of the series back in their favour.