By: Dana Grey
Dana recaps game one and gives his prediction for the remainder of the series.
Game 1 is in the books and what a way it was to start the Stanley Cup Final. After six grueling weeks and three hard fought series each, the Sharks and Penguins began their final push Monday night.
The crowd at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh was deafening from the start and the action was relentless right from puck drop. In a playoff NHL series, often times you’ll see the two teams in a Game 1 sit back in the beginning of the first period; attempt to figure out the other’s game plan and not make the first pivotal mistake. That norm did not hold true in this Final.
Both Pittsburgh and San Jose came out flying exchanging great opportunities early on, Shark’s goalie Martin Jones bearing the brunt of the shots. Finally with seven minutes to go in the first, Notre Dame product Bryan Rust broke the ice to give the Pens the first goal of the series. Just one minute later, Pittsburgh’s Conor Sheary collected a loose rebound in front and potted the puck behind Jones. After one, it looked as though the Penguins were going to have no trouble taking the series lead.
In the second frame, the Sharks looked like a different team. With goals from forwards Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau respectively, San Jose tied the game at 2 heading into the third. Although they were even after forty minutes, Sharks winger Logan Couture critiqued his team’s start postgame. “It looked like we were stuck in the mud. Shouldn’t happen. Obviously this is the first time for a lot of guys, so maybe that was it. This time of the year, the games are to big to have a start like that.”
Monday’s third period was as good of final twenty minutes as one could ask for, featuring back and forth chances from both clubs. Jones and Penguin’s rookie goalie Matt Murray parried shot after shot. When it looked like free hockey was upon us. Penguins’ Nick Bonino had other thoughts. With two and a half minutes to go in regulation, Kris Letang dished a perfect pass to the slot and the Avon Old Farms alum made no mistake. Bonino placed a perfect snap shot above Jones’ blocker into the top left corner of the cage. Series advantage: Penguins.
If the Sharks want to split these first two games and leave the East Coast with a victory, they’re going to have to play a much more consistent 60 minutes Wednesday night. No lineup changes are expected for either side.
Dana’s Prediction: 3-1 Sharks