The San Jose Sharks will try to put the late disappointment of the opening game of the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals behind them, heading into game 2, trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins 1-0.
After coming back from two goals with a strong second period, they got bullied in the third and eventually allowed Nick Bonino, with less than three minutes on the clock, to slip by Martin Jones and give the Penguins a dramatic 3-2 win. The Penguins had 41 shots at goal in the game, more than any other regulation playoff game this postseason for the Sharks, playing in the franchise’s first ever Stanley Cup final game. Everyone agrees they were outplayed, and maybe lucky to still be “alive” in the final minutes. But the NHL isn’t about deserved; it’s about taking advantage of opportunities, even if it’s through defending for most of the game.
The home team played a better game than us. I think we didn’t find a way to get rewarded. The good news was we still had a chance right until the last five minutes to win that game. We were far from where our game needs to be. I think we realize that. We weren’t happy with the number of shots. We weren’t happy with the quality of shots. We weren’t happy with the guys who didn’t get enough shots.
The Penguins were more than happy with the performance from Sidney Crosby, who didn’t score, but had one assist, a cross-ice backhanded pass to Conor Sheary, setting up the rookie for the Penguins second goal in the game during their fantastic first period, that included taking 15 shots at the Sharks goal while having to deal with just four themselves. Crosby had four shots himself during the game and has 16 points in the playoffs with 6 goals and 10 assists.
One question that was hanging over game 2 regarded the suspension or not of Patrick Marleau, who was penalized for an illegal check to the head of Bryan Rust. The NHL’s Department of Player Safety declined to call Marleau in for a hearing to discuss his hit, suggesting there was nothing out of the ordinary with it, despite Rust being more than just slightly shaken up from it. Rust has six goals in the postseason and is listed as day to day. He didn’t practice with his teammates the day after the game, working out later on his own.
It’ll be a matter of forcing a style on the game. Pittsburgh had their way in game 1, and if their talent is allowed to keep things fast and frantic in game 2, despite the Sharks depth, it’s going to be very difficult for them to keep up and turn this series around.