The Pittsburgh Penguins will be looking to win the Stanley Cup on home ice, while the San Jose Sharks will be looking to live another day, avoid elimination and the end to their season. The two teams will battle it out at the Consol Energy Center, where Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final will take place on Thursday night. The game can been seen on NBC at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Here are five keys to Game 5:
1) Score First
The Sharks have played four games against the Penguins and have yet to score first in the series. In the Game 3 win, the only time San Jose led was when Joonas Donskoi scored the game-winning goal in overtime. Game 5 would be the perfect time for the Sharks to get that first goal and have a chance to play with the lead instead of playing from behind. If the Sharks can get the first goal of the game then it may take the crowd, which will be raucous, out of the game a bit. It would also force the Penguins to play from behind, which is something they haven’t had to do at all in the series, and maybe they might make some mistakes.
2) Weather the Storm
The Penguins are going to come out energized and ready to play. They could clinch the Stanley Cup on home ice in front of the home fans. There is no doubt that the Pittsburgh players will be amped up and have a ton of energy to start the game. The Sharks will need to weather the storm and play a decent first period on the road. Whether it takes blocking shots, playing solid defense or Martin Jones being spectacular, the Sharks need to be tied at the end of the first period or ahead. The Penguins are going to try to get the forecheck going early, so the Sharks will need to be aware of that, and avoid the turnovers and bad decisions that have plagued them throughout this series.
3) Joel Ward/Martin Jones
The Sharks went out and signed Joel Ward in the offseason for his ability to get to the net and score clutch goals. They’ll need Ward to be that clutch player that they signed him to be since the Sharks big name players can’t seem to get anything going witch the lack of time and space given to them by the Penguins. Martin Jones has kept the Sharks in all four games of the series so far. He has made spectacular saves, timely saves and the routine saves even when looking shaky at times. Jones will need to come up big in this elimination game, which is his second of the postseason. The Sharks and Jones beat the Nashville Predators in a Game 7 to advance to the Western Conference Final.
4) Feed Off the Crowd’s Energy
There is no doubt that the crowd at the Consol Energy Center will be loud and energized. This will be the first time that the Penguins could win the Stanley Cup in the building since it opened in 2010, a year after the Penguins won the Cup and the last time they were in the Final. Pittsburgh needs to feed off the crowd’s energy and get off to a fast start like they have been doing this whole series. The Penguins need to establish the forecheck early and test Jones as much as they can in the early going.
5) Play Penguins Hockey
The Pens can’t get caught up in the fact that this is no ordinary “clinching game”, but rather it is a chance to win the Stanley Cup, a goal of every team since the beginning of the season. Pittsburgh can’t get caught up in the hype of it all, and they’ll need to be disciplined because if they take too many penalties, the Sharks will make them pay when on the power play. The Pens need to keep playing with speed since it looks like San Jose just can’t keep up with them. They’ll need to create off the forecheck and off the rush. In the defensive zone, just keep blocking the shot attempts the Sharks are sending/trying to send to the net.