Both teams have the same lineups, which most consequentially means that SJ's Tomas Hertl misses his second game in a row with an undisclosed injury.
A good start for Pittsburgh and they're rewarded with the game's first goal. Evgeni Malkin makes a nice play in neutral zone to keep a play going and Phil Kessel swoops into the zone. Kessel fires a shot that Martin Jones kicks out a big juicy rebound, made worse by all the Sharks staring at the puck and none seeing Ian Cole sneak in.
The teams trade power plays, which typically isn't good news for the Pens. No one scores, though Pittsburgh actually shows some movement, zone time and nice chances on theirs for a change.
The game seemed to shift when early in the 2nd, Melker Karlsson took a dumb offensive zone penalty by taking down Eric Fehr off a faceoff 2:28 in.
saw a better angle pic.twitter.com/fi1tHSJqOE— Stephanie (@myregularface) June 7, 2016
The Pens PP finally scores its first goal of the Stanley Cup Final just 9 seconds later when Sidney Crosby wins a faceoff back to Kris Letang, who serves one over for Kessel. Kessel whips a hard pass to the net where Malkin is almost literally posting up next to the post for a re-direct to make it 2-0.
Dad powers are real. pic.twitter.com/PzsvNs2Gs3— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) June 7, 2016
The Sharks look stunned, and then Justin Schultz and Tom Kuhnhackl hit a post behind Jones, nearly scoring more goals.
The "series of the post" continues later for San Jose when Nick Spaling strikes.
Just as the period begins with a power play, it ends with one as well after Bryan Rust takes a pretty lazy penalty on Brent Burns. Huge moment for the Sharks PP, but they can't come through. Ben Lovejoy made a nice play to break a long cross-ice pass.
Patric Hornqvist sells out to block a shot with his head as the period expires.
Hornqvist blocks a shot with his head pic.twitter.com/YZuh5J5vhY— Stephanie (@myregularface) June 7, 2016
Pens start a little passive just dumping pucks in, and the Sharks are making a strong push. Logan Couture feeds Patrick Marleau for a mini-breakaway but the glove-hand of Murray comes up strong.
Marleau chance pic.twitter.com/I23l0DQXta— Stephanie (@myregularface) June 7, 2016
However it doesn't last and SJ cuts the lead to 2-1 with Karlsson collecting a blocked shot and putting it past Muray.
Karlsson goal pic.twitter.com/BOZA8kuIlL— Stephanie (@myregularface) June 7, 2016
The Pens are in full defensive-mode, mixing and matching line combos to keep defensive specialists out there, and one such pays off offensively. Carl Hagelin jumps in the play and keeps the puck and Eric Fehr slips behind the Shark defenders. Hagelin with a nice pass to Fehr who's all in the clear and shoots the puck by the blocker of Jones to make it 3-1 late in the third.
- Malkin ends his point drought, which of course was going to happen sooner or later, but nice that it was "sooner". He wanted to play better, and did. He even looked a little Datsyuk-ian making a nice defensive play behind the puck in his own zone. June hockey at its finest!
- Pens coach Mike Sullivan's very cautious to have 2 centers for almost every defensive zone draw. With all the talk of faceoff cheating and potential risks of linesmen tossing guys, that's probably smart.
- And the Pens are very comfortable using Matt Cullen (if not the entire 4th line) in those d-zone draws too.
- Olli Maatta looks about 100 times better than he did early in the playoffs (or really dating back to his lower body injury in March).
- Matt Murray was sharp as well, and tested a few times early too when the Sharks out-shot the Pens 8-6 in the first period. Probably shouldn't be surprising at this point, since Murray is now 5-0 with a GAA under 2 in these playoffs in starts following a loss.
- Per Bob Grove, tonight's a franchise record 7th straight game for the Penguins to score the first goal of the game. Great time of year to jump out on the scoreboard first.
- The Pens streak of 12 straight games of out-shooting the opposition ends tonight.
- Lord Stanley is in the building on Thursday night.
15 down, but the toughest one still yet to go.