(So I believed I was supposed to write this and I did and only found out as I went to publish it that I didn’t need to write it… I think I may be suffering from the same start time confusion that the Sharks were today.)
The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks in the first game of the Stanley Cup Final, by a score of 3-2. The Penguins won the game primarily in the first and third periods, while the Sharks dominated only the second period. After the game, Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer gave an assessment of the game:
Credit to them, they came out and were moving like you would expect if you’re playing at home in the first game of the Stanley Cup Final. We stood around and watched a little bit, didn’t get up to speed, didn’t get up to pace. I really liked our second period. We started to play the way we’re capable of playing.
And the third, we didn’t play like we did in the second for long enough stretches. We had some spurts here and there but they played their game for longer stretches than we did tonight. That’s what happens. You don’t deserve to win when you don’t outplay the other team.
Was the poor start due to the pressure of the situation? DeBoer could not precisely account for the team’s lack of readiness:
I don’t know. I mean, you know guys are dialed in, you know they want to play well. Everyone’s heart’s in the right place so it’s something. Is it us travelling? Is it an emotional let down after the last game? But, other than the travel, they’re dealing with the same things and they were better than us so we’ve got to fix that.
Along with the loss, the Sharks could face some repercussions from a hit that Patrick Marleau made on Bryan Rust. Marleau does not have a history that would flag him as a reckless player but Rust sustained an injury due to direct contact with his head.
Penguins goals were scored by Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary and Nick Bonino. Penguins goaltender Matt Murray stopped 24 of 26 shots. Sharks goals came from Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 38 saves on 41 shots. The Sharks’ power pay scored once in two chances, while the Penguins went 0-3 on their power plays.
The Sharks took the first penalty of the game, a high sticking call against Dainius Zubrus 8:54 into the first period. The Penguins kept the Sharks jumping and got four shots on net, but the Sharks killed the penalty off.
Justin Braun hit Chris Kunitz just as Kunitz sent the puck out of the zone to Bryan Rust. Melker Karlsson got back to defend but lost track of Rust after Rust’s pass got across to Justin Schultz. Schultz’s shot went off of Vlasic in the slot and right back to Rust. Karlsson was not in position to block the shot, while Martin Jones was even less in position with Karlsson in his eyes. Rust got the goal, with assists to Schultz and Kunitz.
The Penguins followed that up with a top shelf shot by Conor Sheary 1:02 later. Justin Braun lost his footing as he tracked Sidney Crosby back to the Sharks’ goal line. Logan Couture was in the neighborhood but could not prevent Crosby’s pass to Sheary across the ice. Assists went to Crosby and Olli Maatta.
By the end of the period, the Penguins led by two goals and ten shots. The shot count was 14-4.
The Sharks started the second with some energy. Joe Pavelski got a shot in and Marleau had a good look before Melker Karlsson drew attention to a stick wrapped around his torso. It was Ian Cole’s stick and Cole was not happy about the penalty. The Sharks started their first power play at 1:14. The shots stood 2-0 Sharks for that first minute.
The Penguins stood up well to the Sharks’ top power play unit and did not allow them to get a shot through. Using a Pittsburgh clear to change, the Sharks’ second unit came on with almost a minute left in the penalty. With just 12 seconds left, Tomas Hertl jammed the puck under Penguins goalie Matt Murray. Hertl had sent the puck around the boards to Burns, who gave it to Joel Ward. Ward was being pressured by Matt Cullen but he kept the puck in and gave it to Joonas Donskoi. Donskoi carried it deeper and sent a quick sharp pass to Hertl next to the net. Hertl caught it and jammed it home in one motion. It was Hertl’s sixth of the playoffs. Assists went to Donskoi and Ward.
Six minutes into the second, the shot count was 8-1 Sharks. The Penguins did push back, evening the shot count up to 10-7 by the 15 minute mark.
Patrick Marleau tied the game at 18:12. Couture and Donskoi had been battling Penguins defenders in the right corner for some time before they got the puck back to Brent Burns at the point. His shot went in hot and Murray stopped it. The rebound barely moved away from Murray’s pad but Marleau was right there to carry it away and behind the net. A quick wraparound got behind Murray’s left pad for Marleau’s fifth of the playoffs. Assists went to Burns and Couture.
Joe Pavelski was called for tripping while Joe Thornton and Evgeni Malkin engaged in some impolite behavior that ended with a glove in Malkin’s face. What Malkin did before that was a little less dignified, but it was preceded by a cross check from Thornton, and so on. Meanwhile, Pavelski’s stick got in Brian Dumoulin’s skates as the Sharks captain tried to beat him around the net on the inside. Pavelksi slammed his stick on the ice after the whistle in an uncustomary display of frustration. Thornton and Malkin also went to the box for roughing and slashing respectively.
All of that occurred with 1:08 left in the period. The Sharks killed off the first part of the penalty before the period ended. The shots for the second were 13-8 Sharks, for a two period total of 23-17 Penguins.
The Sharks had two shots in the first five minutes of the third period, but were short handed at 4:47. Patrick Marleau hit Bryan Rust and made contact with his head. Marleau could have avoided the hit but he would have had to stop or veer away and let Rust skate right into the Sharks’ zone. Additionally, Rust’s head was low as he was leaning forward, so avoiding his head while still hitting him would have been quite a feat. Still, it was direct contact to a player’s head so it could be reviewable by the League. The on ice officials felt it was only worth two minutes. Rust went to the dressing room after a bit. He returned to the game, but left again later and did not return.
The Sharks killed off the penalty.
The game seemed likely to go to overtime until, with 2:33 left in the game, the Penguins broke the tie. Nick Bonino was alone in front of the net since Paul Martin facing the wrong way. Kris Letang found him with a pass and Bonino scored his fourth of the playoffs. Assists went to Letang and Carl Hagelin.
The Sharks drew a power play with 2:09 left in the game after Ben Lovejoy was called for hooking. The Penguins held them off so the Sharks could not pull their goaltender until 18:24 and then held on for the win. Pittsburgh outshot San Jose 18-9 in the third period.
Final score 3-2 Penguins.
Game 2 will be Wednesday in Pittsburgh at 5:00 PT.
Some sad news came out on Monday:
— Dan Rusanowsky (@DanRusanowsky) May 31, 2016