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Five factors for Game 3 of West Final

Thursday, 05.20.2010 / 1:58 PM / News
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Five factors for Game 3 of West Final
NHL.com takes a look at the five factors that could alter the outcome of Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.
The Sharks have had a hard time besting Antti Niemi in the first two games of the series.

CHICAGO -- The Blackhawks enter Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series against the San Jose Sharks. Here are five things to look for when they meet Friday (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS) at United Center:

1. Sharks need support -- The second line of Ryane Clowe, Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi has combined for 1 goal and 2 assists in their last five games after totaling 30 points in the first eight games of the playoffs. If they don't chip in and take some pressure off of the top line of Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley, this will be a short series.

2. Stay on course -- The Blackhawks aren't doing a lot of things wrong. They played much better in Game 2 and were rewarded with a convincing victory. They must continue to drive to the net and use Dave Bolland's line to suffocate Thornton's line. There likely won't be any lineup changes for Chicago in Game 3, and why would there be?

3. Solving Niemi -- There was a lot of talk among the Sharks that they made Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi look better than he really is when he made 44 saves in Game 1. But he was solid again in Game 2 and it resulted in another victory. If the Sharks don't start crowding his crease and getting rebounds up high, it will be more of the same in Game 3.

4. A little bit special -- There hasn't been many power plays in this series, but both teams have been converting. The Sharks are 2-for-6 with the extra man; the Blackhawks are 1-for-4 after not getting any power-play time in Game 1. The team that draws more penalties in Game 3 might be able to swing things in their favor.

5. Fading stars -- Marian Hossa and Heatley have 2 goals apiece in the postseason, a stark contrast from what they've done in their careers. The first one to wake up and start scoring with consistency could make a difference in Game 3 and the series.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DLozoNHL

Author: Dave Lozo | NHL.com Staff Writer