The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final by a score of 3-2. With the victory at Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh takes a 1-0 series lead. San Jose, which is playing in its first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history, overcame an early deficit but could not withstand a late Penguins surge. Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary and Nick Bonino all scored for the home team. For San Jose, it was Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau lighting the lamp. Martin Jones had 38 saves on 41 shots for the Sharks, while Matt Murray saved 24 of 26.
The first five minutes featured tight checking on both sides, with neither registering much in the way of high-quality scoring chances. That changed six minutes in, when the Pens line of Conor Sheary, Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist created multiple opportunities in and around the front of the net. A minute later, the Sharks were denied on a breakaway and the series was officially on.
The Pens got a powerplay halfway through the first and generated lots of pressure, particularly the first unit. But a few shots missed the net, and thanks to some great saves by Martin Jones and timely clearances, San Jose survived without surrendering a goal.
Pittsburgh translated their energy from the man advantage into goals 62 seconds apart. Bryan Rust and Justin Schultz had speed on the rush, and Schultz’s shot was deflected straight into the path of Rust. He knocked it past Jones to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
Rust goal pic.twitter.com/IsgRroA9Z3— Stephanie (@myregularface) May 31, 2016
The second came a minute later. Crosby skated the puck into the corner, then did a 180 to evade the Sharks defenders. He backhanded a pass across the slot to Conor Sheary, who settled the puck and snapped off a shot with a screen in front to beat Jones again and send the Pittsburgh crowd into an even bigger frenzy.
Sheary goal pic.twitter.com/pipRxY0L0v— Stephanie (@myregularface) May 31, 2016
Pittsburgh continued to put on the pressure for the rest of the period—ending up with a 27-14 shot attempts advantage—but Jones and the Sharks prevented a third goal. The score at the first intermission was 1-0.
San Jose came out wth lots of energy in the second period, and earned a power play for their efforts. With 12 seconds left in the advantage, Tomas Hertl completed a nice passing play by banking the puck off of Olli Maatta and past Murray.
Hertl goal pic.twitter.com/ZzjrGVpdsR— Stephanie (@myregularface) May 31, 2016
San Jose continued to ratchet up the pressure for the next ten minutes, almost completely undoing Pittsburgh’s shot attempt advantage. After that Jones was forced into saves on Schultz and Nick Bonino, and the game became much more evenly paced.
The tightness of the game would eventually be reflected in the game’s score, as the Sharks tied it with only a few minutes left in the period. Brent Burns fired off a point shot that Murray denied, but Marleau was in front of the net for the rebound. He quickly took the puck behind the net and tucked it home at the far post on the wraparound to level the score 2-2.
The third period started on a slightly controversial note. Marleau caught Rust with a shoulder to the head five minutes into the period, but only was sent to the penalty box for two minutes. Rust was sent to the dark room for concussion protocol and the Pens could not convert on the power play.
The third period turned into a track meet as time wound down. Jones made point-blank stops on Hornqvist and Crosby in quick succession, and moments later at the other end Thornton was denied on a breakaway by the shoulder of Murray. Pittsburgh turned up the pressure again late in the game, and eventually it paid off in a big way. Kris Letang won a puck battle behind the net and snapped off a pass to Bonino in front of the net. He settled the puck and wristed a shot over Jones’ shoulder at the near post for the 3-2 lead with 2:33 remaining in the game.
Bonino goal pic.twitter.com/2uZb1j6lFa— Stephanie (@myregularface) May 31, 2016
The Penguins gifted San Jose a late power play, but the Sharks just could not maintain any pressure. Nothing changed once they pulled Jonesfor the 6-on-4 edge, and so the game ended 3-2 in favor of the Penguins.
Game 2 is on Wednesday night at 8pm in Pittsburgh.