For the San Jose Sharks the Stanley Cup Final is uncharted territory, so it should not be surprising that in the first period it looked like they were having a little trouble getting the butterflies out so that they could play their game. It was clear that the Pittsburgh Penguins were working their speed and taking advantage of the bit of uncertainty being displayed by the Sharks. Couple that with the insane emotion at the Consol Energy Center and it’s easy to see how the ice tilted in Pittsburgh’s favor, especially after a power play that saw them manage four shots on goal and certainly gave them a sense of confidence that they carried into the next few minutes. And it was this confidence that allowed the Penguins to capitalize getting on the scoreboard first.
The first goal came off the stick of rookie and Notre Dame Fighting Irish alumni, Bryan Rust. This was his sixth goal in the post season and makes him the highest postseason scoring rookie in Penguins’ history.
With emotion from the fans at the highest decibel and perhaps the Sharks feeling a bit of a sting from that goal, Pittsburgh would capitalize again just 1:02 later. This time it was University of Massachusetts Minutemen alum and Melrose, Massachusetts native, Conor Sheary.
For the Sharks’ goaltender Martin Jones, that would be the end of the scoring for the Penguins through the first period, as he made many stellar stops. The first period came to an end with the Penguins having outshot the Sharks 15-4.
The second period opened with a very different Sharks team as they played to their strengths, preventing the Penguins from using their speed to get the better of those in white and teal. Just 1:14 into the middle frame Pittsburgh’s Ian Cole was whistled for tripping giving San Jose their first power play of the game. And as the Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues can attest, the man advantage is something the Sharks’ opposition does not want to give them.
It would be Tomas Hertl with the power play goal, but once again defenseman Brent Burns was there making some important moves getting his 15th assist of the post season. And Burns would continue to show up in the second, making some speedy and impressive plays to prevent the Penguins from getting some chances. In many ways the Sharks managed to nullify the Penguins.
The Penguins would find the score tied with approximately two minutes remaining in the second, as Patrick Marleau got a wrap around into the net before Matt Murray could close it off with his right skate.
The third period though saw the Penguins come back out forcing their game on the Sharks, however San Jose also had some good chances. And while the Penguins had been exceptionally fast in the first period, they were not nearly as quick in the third, but they were crisper with some of their passes. They were back to outshooting the visitors. The game winning goal, which was scored by Nick Bonino, on his first game back after suffering an injury, may not have happened had Burns not lost his stick earlier on the play.
Both teams will have Tuesday to look at tape and rest a bit before they play again in Pittsburgh. For the Sharks, they will need to come out harder in the first period so as not to give the Penguins such an advantage. They also need to figure a way to get more shots on net to truly test Murray. The Penguins will continue to do their best to bend the Sharks to their will as they did in Game 1.