New Jersey Devils
Robby Sabo, ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

After a 5-2 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round, the New Jersey Devils will take to the ice in Game 4 and look to tie the series at 2-2.

  • New Jersey Devils (1-2)
  • Tampa Bay Lightning (2-1)
  • Playoffs, TB Leads 2-1, April 18, 7:30 p.m. ET, MSG+
  • Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey

With the New Jersey Devils suddenly back in the series—after a hard-fought Game 3 victory—Game 4 presents an opportunity to make this thing a best-of-three affair.

Here are the five keys to a Devils Game 4 victory over the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning:

1. Stay out of the box

Things got heated between both teams towards the end of Game 3 in New Jersey, as all 10 skaters on the ice received misconducts (19:37 into the third period). Yes, the Devils were victorious on home ice in front of an energetic crowd, but the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t finish in first place for the Eastern Conference by chance and are capable of rebounding after a stormy finish.

The Bolts are going to come out from the get-go with an edge and Tampa’s veteran skaters are going to try and draw the Devils into taking careless penalties.

Jersey’s Team needs to stay focused and disciplined early on, especially considering that the Lightning are 5-for-9 (55.5 percent) on the power play in the playoffs. The Devils finished the 2017-18 campaign with a top 10 penalty-kill unit (81.8 percent), but that hasn’t been apparent for a majority of this series.

2. A scoreless first

It’s no coincidence that the Lightning won the first two games after outscoring the Devils 3-1 in the first period of play during Game’s 1 and 2, and that New Jersey won Game 3 while not allowing Tampa Bay to score until the second period.

Yes, the first goal is key, but keeping a team such as the Lightning off of the scoreboard in the first period, in general, could be more important than one would think.

Keep in mind that when the Devils led after two periods of play during the regular season, Taylor Hall and company posted a record of 34-0-2.

3. Cash in on the power play

One of the Devils’ biggest strengths not only all season, but against Tampa Bay had been the team’s power play. On the other end of the ice—one of the Lightning’s weak spots would be the penalty kill—which ranked 27th during the regular season (76.1 percent).

The Devils found the back of the net during a five-on-three in Game 3, which turned out to be the momentum changer moving forward. Still, the Devils’ power play will need to reflect how it succeeded in the regular season, which entailed a lot more movement in the offensive zone than what we’ve witnessed in the playoffs.

4. Face-offs

The Devils were unsuccessful in the face-off circle during Game’s 1 and 2, after the team’s percentage was below 50 percent in each contest. The Stanley Cup Playoffs boil down to the little things such as this—and again, it’s probably no coincidence that the Devils won 55 percent of the battles in the dots during Game 3 and skated away saluting the fans with a victory at the Rock.

5. Weather the storm

The first five minutes are all about emotion, and for Game 4 it’s important for New Jersey to weather the storm that’s heading its way come puck drop.

Kyle McKenna is a freelancer who covers the NHL for Elite Sports New York, Hooked On Hockey Magazine & Fansided. Follow him on Twitter @KMcKenna_tLT5 and use the hashtag #McKennasDigest to have your NHL questions featured in an article or answered over his weekly NHL podcast.