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VIDEO: Penguins Survive Shark Attack, Take Game 1 of SCF
By Jameson Bradley
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final did not disappoint. With the stage set for two very deserving teams, the scales were tilted in either direction on who was going to win Game 1. Lets dive in.
The Penguins knew what they were fighting for and the Sharks still hadn’t realized they were in the Stanley Cup Final. The Pens led the 1st period in shots 15-4 and it paid off with little more than 7 minutes left in the frame. The Pens drove down the ice on a rush with Bryan Rust commanding. He gave a quick pass to Justin Schultz who was coming down the middle. Schultz let a shot go, but the shot when off Sharks defender Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Goaltender Martin Jones was already extremely far out of his net, so when the shot bounced off his defender and to his right there was little he could do before Rust capitalized on his 6th goal of the playoffs. Did I mention he only had 5 in the regular season? The Penguins took the push and capitalized again minutes later. Several times in the period the Penguins used their speed to put the Sharks in some dangerous situations. The puck was shoveled down to the Sharks zone and defender Justin Braun was caught out of position. Sidney Crosby flew past him to make what looked like a 2-1 break. Crosby quickly applied the breaks and caught Braun out of position again. He threw a beautiful backhander to Conor Sheary who was transitioning from the middle to the circles. Once he had the puck, Patric Hornqvist applied a block-out-the-sun screen and Sheary made it 2-0. The period ended that way.
As much as the Penguins applied the pressure in the 1st period, the Sharks took their turn in the 2nd. Shots were 13-8 in favor of San Jose by the end of the frame. They only took 3 minutes to attack on the power-play. Nearing the end of their man advantage, Joel Ward managed to keep the puck in which throw Pittsburgh out of position. The puck made its way to Tomas Hertl who was lurking near the net. He looked like he was going to go for the pass, but ended up slipping the puck through Olli Maatta‘s legs. As Maatta went down, Hertl went 5 hole on Murray and cut the deficit in half. The Sharks continued to apply the pressure for the rest of the frame with Pittsburgh only getting a couple chances. San Jose ended up tying the game with a great cycle play and a pass from Logan Couture along the boards to Brent Burns who bombed a shot on Matt Murray. Patrick Marleau was there to take the rebound and make an amazing wrap around backhanded play. For as long as he has played you would think he wouldn’t be able to score goals like that anymore. You couldn’t help but smile as he tied the game and got his very first Stanley Cup Final goal. The frame ended 2-2.
Pittsburgh seemed to realize their faults and picked up the pace in the 3rd period. There were some great chances on both sides, but just like in the 1st period San Jose goaltender Martin Jones kept the game close. Pittsburgh would eventually take the lead with a little over two minutes left. Kris Letang had the puck along the boards and passed it to an open Nick Bonino in front of Jones. He realized the time he had, but it looked too close to get a shot off. Bonino gave it a kinda chip shot and it made it in. 3-2 Pens. The Sharks would end the game on the PP, but would be unable to force overtime.
It was a great game. Everything you could hope for in the first game of a Stanley Cup Final. It could have been a very different game as each team was sloppy on their penalties. San Jose took 4 and Pittsburgh took 3. They were both lucky neither team capitalized more on those. San Jose was also lucky that Martin Jones kept it a two goal game in the 1st. He had some incredible saves, and Matt Murray returned the favor to Pittsburgh by only letting in two in the 2nd. Pittsburgh continued their shot dominance by out shooting the Sharks 41-26. The Sharks are going to have a find a way to get more pucks to the net, and the Pens are going to have a find a way to get their pucks in the net. Scoring came from secondary players with stars like Sidney Crosby and Logan Couture only getting one assist a piece, while Brent Burns got two.
I look for big names like Phil Kessel, Joe Pavelski, Evgeni Malkin, and Shawn Thornton to take the stage more in Game 2. Game 1 is always a feeler game, the real fun starts after. One thing to notice is the Penguins had a great period, but it was once again followed by a poorly played one. They had the 1st period in the bag, but let a two goal lead go down the drain. If Pittsburgh wants to win the Cup, they need to hold their leads better. Especially playing against a team like San Jose, they were lucky to come out with the win tonight.
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