Well if this is what the series is going to look like, I think everyone is in for a real treat. Tonight, the San Jose Sharks visited the Pittsburgh Penguins for game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Sadly, a comeback by the Sharks fell short and the Penguins now have a 1-0 series lead.
The first period was all Penguins. I’m not sure if the Sharks were testing them out at the beginning or not, but by the end of the period, they were turning the puck over and giving up chance after chance. The opening minutes were fairly even, with both teams trading chances and the action going from zone to zone. Then the Penguins slowly took over and all momentum went to them when Dainius Zubrus went to the penalty box for a high stick. Pittsburgh didn’t score on it, but they got some grade-A chances and forced the Sharks on their heels. Soon after, Penguins player Bryan Rust scored at 12:46. Justin Schultz came in on the rush and tried taking a wrist shot in the right faceoff circle. Marc-Edouard Vlasic blocked it, but the puck redirected just barely past Melker Karlsson and right to a wide open Rust, who had an open net. The second goal of the period came just sixty-two seconds later and it was from the bad guys again. Conor Sheary took a pass from Sidney Crosby and took a shot from the right faceoff circle. It beat a screened Martin Jones top-right, who I’m not sure even saw it. It’s hard to fault Jones on either of those goals, especially because he’s the only reason it wasn’t about 5-0 after twenty. He stood tall and made some great saves.
Things were the exact opposite in the middle frame. Right from the faceoff the Sharks were on the puck and applying pressure. They struck back just 3:02 after that opening faceoff on the power-play. When the second unit was on, with under fifteen seconds left in the man advantage, Joonas Donskoi passed to Tomas Hertl. He was at the goal line and shot the puck at Murrays five-hole. It went off the inside of his pad and into the net. He is the first San Jose Shark to score a goal in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins got some great looks after that, but Jones continued his stellar play and the rest of the Sharks thanked him with a game-tying goal. With under two minutes left in the second, Brent Burns took a big slap-shot that Matt Murray stopped. The goalie couldn’t get the rebound though and Patrick Marleau took the puck from Murrays left and scored a wrap-around goal on his right side. The goalie almost made the save, but it went off his skate and in. It was great to see that after years of failure, Marleau scored in his very first Final game.
The third period was pretty even overall. Both teams got chances and both goalies came up big. Martin Jones especially. I mean… wow. He played out of his mind tonight. Unfortunately, the Penguins took the lead with under three minutes remaining in regulation. Nick Bonino (who’s last name sounds like something those Minions would say) was right in front of Jones and Kris Letang passed it from behind the goal line to him, and he sent it past the goalies blocker side. The Sharks would actually get a power-play with just over two minutes remaining, but they were unable to establish anything and the Penguins took game 1, 3-2.
- This was a real close game. Anyone who thinks this will be an easy Final for either team is crazy
- Martin Jones is at his best when he faces a lot of shots, it seems. Really got into a groove tonight.
- Good to see our PK can handle the Penguins PP. Sharks killed all three penalties
- Our PP looked solid. 1/2 is nice.
- Doc Emrick keeps saying Logan Couture’s name wrong and it’s driving me insane. Where’s Randy?
- Honestly, if Sharks would have played better in the first, I think they would have won. Either way, this shows the team is going to have to play a full 60 minutes in these games. Can’t afford to play one or two periods and take one off.
Game 2 will be in Pittsburgh again on Wednesday, June 1st at 5 p.m. Pacific time. Let’s tie up the series boys!