Kukla's Korner Hockey
NHL analyst Doug MacLean credits the Penguins D and goaltending, but really thinks the lack of production by the Sharks big guns has made it a fairly easy Final for Pittsburgh to this point.
The Stanley Cup was cradled by Sidney Crosby before 350,000 parade onlookers, dunked in Mario Lemieux's swimming pool, carried on a slippery ride across a baseball outfield by Bryan Trottier.
The one adventure that has never happened to the shiny silver cup in Pittsburgh is being lifted at center ice after a championship-clinching victory.
In fact, of the 11 major sports championships won by Pittsburgh teams since the Pirates claimed the 1960 World Series at Forbes Field -- six Super Bowls, three Stanley Cups, two other World Series -- not one was won on home turf or home ice.
But the Penguins, improbably, can win their fourth Stanley Cup in a quarter-century on Thursday night if they can close out the San Jose Sharks, who trail 3-1 in a finals in which Pittsburgh has never fallen behind in regulation.
from Curtis Pashelka of the Mercury News,
For several members of the Sharks, losing a three-games-to-one lead in a playoff series is not a foreign feeling. But the one positive those players can draw from those painful experiences is the knowledge that momentum in a series can change. Quickly.
Trailing 3-1 in games, the Sharks say they will take that attitude into Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.
"I think the one thing about our group is there's a lot of belief in our game and in each other," Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said Wednesday. "The other thing about our group is they've been on the other side, up 3-0, and saw how quickly that vanished against L.A. (in 2014). We have some guys that vividly remember that. They know how quickly a win can turn the momentum."
Shawn McKenzie and Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet looking ahead to Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.
By Joe Sudberg,
At this point, Hooper may be best fit to drive the boat for the San Jose Sharks.
Monday night’s Game 4 was a harsh reality check for the Bay Area team, who saw their Stanley Cup hopes thin with a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins now own a commanding 3-1 series lead as the series shifts back to Consol Energy Center for Game 5 Thursday.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
"Most of the postseason we've been able to jump out (to leads)," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said after Monday night's 3-1 Game 4 loss, which gave the Penguins a 3-1 series lead. "We haven't quite got that yet. Moving forward, I think that's going to play a big role in giving ourselves a chance.
"If we can get going that way, it's going to help.''
The Sharks aren't used to this. They've been front-runners all spring, jumping down the throat of the opposing team early and dictating the game from there. It was the theme of San Jose's first-round series win against the rival Los Angeles Kings.
The tables have turned, and the Sharks are playing each and every Cup finals game like they're skating up a hill, chasing all night, getting out of their system at times to force the issue and falling out of rhythm, as San Jose coach Peter DeBoer is forced to shorten the bench to find offense.
It's a tough way to win games. And it grinds away at you mentally.
from Mark Purdy of the Mercury News,
"Right now, we're in the hole we're at," Pavelski said after Monday's game. "A goal or two probably changes the outcome. The way it's been going for most of the postseason, I feel like I should probably have a little bit more."
So should the Sharks.
Pavelski's lack of scoring is not the only reason the Sharks find themselves trailing in the series. It's not the only reason why, with another raucous crowd at SAP Center ready to lift them, they wasted an opportunity to even the series.
However, the Pavelski problem is a symbol of the Sharks' bigger problem. They can't score goals. After averaging more than 3.5 goals per game in their three previous playoff series, they have scored just seven goals in the four games against the Penguins.
Even worse, the Sharks can't take a lead to make the Penguins sweat.
The only time that the Sharks have had a lead in the four games was on the winning goal by Joonas Donskoi in overtime last Saturday night, which officially ended Game 3. But does anyone remember the last time that the Sharks had a lead during the run of play?
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of NHL.com,
Less than four months ago, goaltender Matt Murray was playing in front of small crowds for Wilkes Barre/Scranton in the American Hockey League: 4,916 at Hartford on Feb. 12, 5,193 at home on Feb. 14, 6,855 at Toronto on Feb. 19, 3,471 at Portland on Feb. 26. He had played four NHL games at that point. He was a prospect.
Monday, in front of 17,562 at SAP Center and a national television audience in two countries, Murray was First Star as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final and took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series, making 11 of his 23 saves in the third period. Though he has won nine regular-season NHL games, he has won 14 Stanley Cup Playoff games, one short of the rookie record.
"I think it goes to show you," Murray, 22, sitting on a podium in an interview room next to superstar Evgeni Malkin, said, "you can never predict what's going to happen."
No one predicted this. The Penguins are one victory from the fourth championship in franchise history, and they have a chance to win the Stanley Cup at home for the first time in Game 5 at Consol Energy Center on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports). They have not trailed in this series. Their only loss came in overtime.
Watch the game highlights below...
The Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 tonight and now lead the Stanley Cup Final series 3-1.
The Sharks had trouble generating much offense except for 3rd period bursts and once again the Penguins were the better team.
Goals are below and Game 5 is Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org