The Pittsburgh Penguins are one win away from winning the Stanley Cup after defeating the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. They stifled San Jose through the first two periods and withstood a late push from the Sharks to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Matt Murray again played well, ending up with 23 saves on 24 shots. Evgeni Malkin got his first goal of the Stanley Cup Final.
The Penguins got on the board first, thanks to a goal from an unlikely source. Phil Kessel took a pass through the middle and entered the offensive zone with speed, but was well defended in transition. He skated out wide and wristed a shot on goal that Martin Jones easily saved. The rebound bounced across the ice to Ian Cole, who one-timed the puck past the sliding goalie.
cole gole pic.twitter.com/HH1dUdoiy1— Stephanie (@myregularface) June 7, 2016
The Penguins dominated the shot-attempts battle for the rest of the period. Moments after the goal, Brian Dumoulin tried to out-wait Jones but the goaltender flashed his left pad to make the save.
San Jose forced intermittent pressure on Matt Murray—particularly when their first power play unit skated towards the end of the period. But like most of the rest of the series, it was Pittsburgh who controlled play. They led 1-0 at the end of the first period.
The Penguins came out firing in the second period and earned an early power play. Their vaunted top unit finally broke through—they had started the series 0-for-7 on the man advantage. Kessel gathered the puck to the right of Jones and snapped a shot/pass towards the back post. Malkin had positioned himself there and deflected it with the heel of his stick into the net.
another look at Malkin goal pic.twitter.com/WOYwW95Bh3— Stephanie (@myregularface) June 7, 2016
The Penguins had a stifling transition game going after the goal. San Jose did not manage to get even one shot on goal in the second period until more than nine minutes had passed. For the last eight minutes of the period, the Sharks finally got into the game a bit more and generated some consistent pressure. however, the Penguins’ aggressive checking prevented them from getting many high-quality chances. This continued on a late power play for the Sharks; the best chance during the two minutes belonged to Pittsburgh on an odd-man rush.
The Sharks finally got a major foothold in the game in the third period, forcing Murray into a few high quality saves. Notably, Patrick Marleau was denied on the breakaway by a nice glove save.
Halfway through the final frame, San Jose finally got on the board. It was Melker Karlsson who gathered a loose puck in the slot and snapped it below Murray’s glove while falling down. That goal cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 2-1.
Karlsson goal pic.twitter.com/BOZA8kuIlL— Stephanie (@myregularface) June 7, 2016
They continued their push, but could not break through a second time. Instead, it was Eric Fehr who scored with two minutes left on a breakaway to retake a two-goal lead.
Fehr goal pic.twitter.com/ioBuTfQhM7— Stephanie (@myregularface) June 7, 2016
The Penguins withstood a late push with Jones pulled for an extra attacker, and 3-1 ended as the final score. The potentially series-deciding Game 5 will be played Thursday night in Pittsburgh, and the Stanley Cup will be in the building.