When Justin Braun and the San Jose Sharks tied the game late to send it to overtime, you knew that a bounce here or there could send the series to California all tied up. The Penguins took advantage of an offensive zone face-off and Conor Sheary put the game away before the Sharks could get a chance to let a bounce go their way.
Sidney Crosby was the mastermind of the set play, specifically setting up what he wanted Kris Letang and Conor Sheary to do on the play, and they executed it to perfection.
Sheary said Sid told him he was going to win the face-off, get it to Letang and then get it to Sheary for his goal. #StanleyCupFinal— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) June 2, 2016
Here's how it worked out:
Sidney Crosby lined up against Joel Ward to take the offensive zone draw. He cheated.
Logan Couture says Crosby wins offensive zone faceoffs so cleanly because he cheats. Says he gets away with it because of who he is.— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) June 2, 2016
Lol. Back to reality, where Crosby is good at winning draws. He wins the draw clean to Kris Letang out at the point.
Letang then makes the patient play, with a slight half-slap pump fake, looking to feed the puck into the soft spot in the slot instead of putting it on net.
Conor Sheary and Patric Hornqvist were both "combing the zone" as Mike Rupp put it, and Sheary had his stick available as a landing spot for Kris Letang's pass. Letang having three options available to him helped give him the time and space he needed. Dumoulin's availability drew a forward away from the passing lane and Hornqvist headed towards the net caused the defensemen to back in towards the net leaving room for Sheary to shoot once he had the puck.
Sheary had one look at the net and he didn't waste his opportunity. He made a very patient look, using the net-front presence from Patric Hornqvist to his advantage, and went far side and beat Martin Jones before Jones even knew where the puck was.
Even better, I think everyone in the building knew the puck was in the net before Conor Sheary knew.
Another look at the passing angle that Kris Letang had available shows how much these two players had to know what was going on. When Letang made the pass, Sheary really wasn't in position to receive it, but by the time the puck was there, he was ready for it.
Same, Sheary and Letang, same.
The entire play can be seen below:
So, we sit here with the Penguins holding a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final. How great is that? Two days off and headed to San Jose for Game 3 and 4 where we know the Sharks are gonna be desperate as hell. Gonna be great.