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VIDEO: Penguins Edge Sharks in OT, Lead Series 2-0
By Jameson Bradley
As much as the scales tipped back and forth in Game 1 of the SCF, the Penguins came out with a victory. Many were weary of the Penguins taking Game 2, especially since for (what seems like) the millionth time this post season they had a lead and lost it going into the third. That, combined with the resilience the San Jose Sharks have shown all season and especially in the playoffs, made Game 2 a gamble. And it did not disappoint.
A very different pace from the 1st Period of Game 1. The Penguins were still out skating the Sharks, but the Sharks seemed to have figured out a way to combat it. They were extremely physical. You would think that the physicality would have wore the Penguins down, but it only seemed to fuel them. There were no goals in the 1st and some great chances. Cross bars and goal posts saved the day in this period and throughout the game. The period ended with shots 11-6 in favor of the Penguins.
That physical play the Sharks seemed so committed to in the first wore out going into the 2nd. They were less physical, and the Penguins seemed to be moving even faster. It seemed like the Sharks had used up all their energy to hit in the beginning of the game, but the Penguins still had full tanks. The forwards of each team were out skating the opposing defensemen, there was sloppy play in the zone, they couldn’t clear the puck and there were turn overs galore. Surprisingly Pittsburgh was only able to capitalize on it once. What was incredible was how many posts San Jose kept hitting. By the end of the game Hertl had hit 3 just on his own. The only thing keeping them in the game was the play of Martin Jones. He has been an incredible stand out player and has had some truly amazing saves to his name. Whether the Sharks win the Cup or not, he needs to have his name in the MVP race. But with 12 minutes left and a neutral zone turn over and the HBK (Haglin, Bonino, Kessel) line on the ice, the Penguins went in for the kill. It looked like the goal was going to come off that turn over, but Roman Pollock collected the puck and seemed to have control. He went for a pass that was almost intercepted by Phil Kessel, but instead gathered by Brenden Dillon. Dillon tried to exit the zone merely by skating, but Carl Hagelin stripped him of the puck, gave a quick pass to Bonino, who lured Jones out and Kessel went for the kill. Good for his 10th of the playoffs. The period would end with shots in favor of Pittsburgh 12-5, and the score 1-0.
The 3rd Period started with the Sharks on the PP, but they couldn’t muster anything. Truthfully if there was a game I would pick the Sharks to come back and tie it, this was going be the last one on my list. They just couldn’t get anything going. Pittsburgh seemed to on top of them every single play they tried to make. With 5 minutes starting on the clock, their chances got smaller until somehow they scored. With as much traffic in front of the net as they could muster, Justin Braun let one go from the top of the circles and it barely missed Murray’s glove. The Sharks couldn’t believe it themselves. The period would end 1-1.
I had a feeling the entire game the Sidney Crosby would somehow be involved in the game winner. Although held goal-less in this series, he has had some tremendous influence in the games. His speed has opened up the ice incredibly, and tonight was no different. Together with Conor Sheary they had missed the net only by inches several times. A couple minutes into overtime and what Sheary would later say was a set play by the Captain himself, they clicked for magic. Crosby won the face off and passed it back to the blue line to Kris Letang. Letang wheeled it to Sheary, who at an odd angle got a shot off glove side on Martin Jones. Game 2 done. Pens win 2-1.
The only reason the Sharks had a fighting chance in this was Jones. If the Sharks look to win any of these games they need to change the game up. The Penguins are too fast, and the Sharks are relying too much on their physical play for things to get going. Most of these goals are results of the Pens dancing around the Sharks for the finishing move. They need to crack that. The Sharks are a great team, and they have gone up against faster teams before like St. Louis, so this shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for them. I know the tilt tonight was in overtime, and its just the first team to make a mistake wins, but the Penguins were all over them. Like I said above Crosby has been a difference maker in both games. Coach Sullivan himself said after Game 1, “As long as I’ve been associated with this league, I don’t think I’ve known a player with the same work ethic as Sid.” Crosby is taking this opportunity to show everyone what kind of player he really is. The Sharks need to do the same. The Penguins are not relying nearly as much on Murray as they have in the series before. He still has some great saves, but they have done a great job shifting the focus of play to the neutral zone and the offensive zone. The Sharks need to realize they are going up against a powerhouse of a team. Their Disneyland fairy tale of a Cup run isn’t just things clicking and getting bounces anymore. If they don’t change things, the series could be over before anyone thought it would. I look to them to make a change for Game 3. What change it will be? They should know better than anyone else.
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