As expected, no change in lineups or lines for the Pens
Pittsburgh controls play early and strikes first with who else but Bryan Rust scoring his 4th goal in the last 3 games, finding a loose puck off a Justin Schultz shot before anyone else can and firing it into the net to make it 1-0.
Just 62 seconds later, the Pens hit pay-dirt again. Sidney Crosby drives down the left side, puts on the breaks and leaves Justin Braun in the dust and makes a great backhand pass to Conor Sheary . Sheary lets Patric Hornqvist drive to the net to take away the eyes of Martin Jones and then rockets a beauty of a shot to the top corner. 2-0 good guys.
Shots at 15-4 and yeah, I guess you'd say that's a great start.
Yeah, we have a couple more shots after 20 minutes of hockey... pic.twitter.com/Dz3TESiDrz— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 31, 2016
Early in the second a tough start for Ian Cole who takes a penalty. The Sharks good power play takes a while but strikes with Tomas Hertl shooting a puck that banks off Olli Maatta and gets in the net five-hole through Matt Murray.
The Pens can't escape the period without giving up the tying goal, Patrick Marleau with a nice wraparound on his backhand to tie it at 2.
Rust would be knocked out of the game with a head-shot from Marleau which resulted in, wow, a 2 minute penalty. Rust would leave the game, then briefly return for 1 more shift after this but would leave the game for a second time.
Marleau minor for hit to the head pic.twitter.com/a19dYmXeTR— Stephanie (@myregularface) May 31, 2016
Pens come close with a great pass from Crosby to Hornqvist but a nice save by Jones.
Crosby to Hornqvist, Jones save pic.twitter.com/H5IGZKBryb— Stephanie (@myregularface) May 31, 2016
And then Pittsburgh strikes. Burns loses his stick and Kris Letang takes advantage, firing a perfect centering pass out to Nick Bonino . Bonino beats Jones for what would stand as the game-winning goal.
- Playing with Paul Martin is a lot better than playing against him. He's so subtlety good with the little, smart things he routinely does with his stick and positioning to prevent chances against. (But then, he did get caught puck-watching a little on the GWG, but that was more of Letang making a great play).
- Brent Burns with 2 second period assists was as advertised with the puck on his stick in the offensive zone.
- 6 shots on goal for Bonino and a team-high 6 blocked shots too. He was paying the price all night, and this after taking some days off in between the series after blocking a shot off his knee last game.
- Speaking of blocked shots, Hornqvist took one off the left hand of a Roman Polak shot, after last series also taking a left-hand injury. We'll see if anything comes of it, but he was able to finish the game so hopefully is OK.
- Rust, perhaps not so much after taking some head contact. It will be interesting to see if the league does anything with this, they made it clear in the Letang suspension that a late hit made with contact to the head was onus for his suspension. I don't think anyone really expects them to stay consistent in the SCF and suspend a star like Marleau, though. More importantly, hopefully the suddenly productive and important Rust won't have any lasting damage.
- Crosby's passing was very, very dangerous, he could have easily had a few more points. Generating chances for a guy like him is so crucial because sooner or later they will add up and convert into pucks in the net.
- Per NHL PR, the Pens are the first Eastern Conference team to win Game 1 of the SCF since Matt Cullen and the Hurricanes did it in Game 1 in 2006. A bit of weird, random trivia.
- Justin Schultz had 18:53 TOI tonight, which must be a Penguins-career high for him. Interesting to see the coaches feed him more as they become more comfortable with him. And he was pretty good tonight too.
Max Talbot is still one of us! One of us! One of us
Just one game, but a good one for the Pens to find a way to win late, after jumping out to such a great start. SJ responded with a strong 2nd period but Pittsburgh controlled play in the 3rd and deserved to get the win.
13 down, 3 more to go..