Here are five keys to Game 2:
1) Get More Shots Through to the Net
The Sharks need to get more pucks towards Pittsburgh goalie, Matt Murray. He only faced 26 shots the entire game and a lot of those were either blocked or wide of the net. San Jose only managed to get four shots on goal in the first period and nine in the third. They had as many in the second period as they did in the first and third periods combined. They’ll need to be quicker with the puck so the Penguin defenders can’t get in a position to block them with either their bodies or sticks. If a defenseman is going to take a point shot then make sure it’ll get on net with traffic in front.
2) Matt Nieto
Sharks head coach, Peter DeBoer, has a tough decision on whether to make a lineup change and mess with the team’s chemistry throughout this postseason run. The decision would be much harder coming off of a win so DeBoer may just put Matt Nieto back in the lineup for Game 2. Nieto suffered an upper body injury against the Nashville Predators in Game 6 of that series. If DeBoer should choose to put Nieto in the lineup then he could help the speed game of the Sharks.
3) Be Better With the Puck
The Sharks need to be better with the puck on their sticks. Yes, the Penguins forced some of those turnovers and the sloppy play, but the Sharks were sloppy at times. There were failed clears leading to scoring chances, and poor decisions made by San Jose even when there was no Penguin player around. The Sharks need to break out of their own zone better since Pittsburgh will be looking to force them to make those mistakes early in the game. On the game winning goal by Nick Bonino, Sharks defender, Paul Martin had his stick off the ice and looked like he was in no man’s land. If Martin had his stick on the ice then the pass would have been blocked.
4) Don’t Hesitate to Shoot the Puck/Play with Speed
The Penguins played a great game, but there were times that they could have shot the puck, but decided to hold on to it looking for the perfect play. When they finally took the shot, it either went wide or Martin Jones came up with the save. If the players for the Pens have an opportunity to shoot the puck then they need to take it. The Pens will need to play with the same speed that they played with in the first game since it looked like the Sharks couldn’t keep up with them.
5) Stay Out of the Penalty Box
San Jose only had two power plays, but scored on one of them. It wasn’t even the Sharks first unit that scored the goal either, it was the second unit. The Sharks tend to cycle the puck and win the battles on the power play and that’s why they’ve been so successful during the postseason. The Penguins managed to kill off the second power play, but they don’t want to keep giving the dangerous Sharks power play chances to score because they’ll find a way to put the puck in the net while on the man advantage.