Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
Going into Game 5, the series seemed over. Pittsburgh needed one win to hoist the Cup and had been the better team in the series. The Sharks’ 4-2 win in Game 5 now has everyone wondering if this might be a toss-up series again.
It’s not hard to project the Sharks winning Game 6 with the help of a loud, boisterous San Jose crowd. If it's possible the Sharks could win Game 6, then it's possible they can come back and win the series.
“Before Game 5, (we) kept saying try to win this game and get back to San Jose,” Sharks center Logan Couture said. “Now it’s going to be don’t lose at home, win a game and go back to Pittsburgh.”
One of the NHL’s time-honored beliefs in that Game 7 is always a coin flip.
Given that tradition, the Penguins might now be the team feeling the pressure. They did all they could before Game 5 to say the series was far from over, but that didn't prevent high expectations.
The Sharks have added confidence because they believe they are winning the goaltending battle. San Jose goalie Martin Jones owns a .933 save percentage in the series, while Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray is at .916.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
Evgeni Malkin simply said what is on his mind, and probably on the minds of all of his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates, in the aftermath of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
"Yeah, 4-2 we lost, but I think we played a little bit better than San Jose," Malkin said after practice Saturday. "They're a good team, but they were a little bit lucky."
Surely, the Sharks feel differently, but Malkin's point is well taken. The Penguins outshot the Sharks 46-22 and had a 76-36 edge in total shot attempts, including 66-29 at even strength.
from Mark Purdy of the Mercury News,
If you are still a Sharks believer, here is the most encouraging sight I witnessed in Pittsburgh: The Sharks players, too, truly do believe they can come back and win the Stanley Cup Final against the Penguins.
That doesn't mean it will happen. Trailing 3-2 in the series, the Sharks still have a mountain to climb, beginning with Game 6 at SAP Center on Sunday. But the mountain trail grew a little less steep after Thursday's victory.
After decades of covering playoffs in every sport, I have learned to respect the words that players say after games but also to realize that players are going to say what they think they should say. More telling is their body language, or the way they say the words, or the subtle messages they sometimes send.
Sharks defenseman Paul Martin spent the 2010-15 seasons with the Penguins before signing as a free agent with San Jose last summer. Martin is a respected pro with the standard solid-and-mannerly personality of a Minnesota native. He's certainly no trash talker. So one of Martin's remarks, buried amid the usual happy-to-win postgame quotes, was interesting.
"It's good to let them know we're still here," Martin said of the Penguins. "We played them pretty well at SAP. I've been over there when they've lost 3-1 leads and lost series."
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
Not so fast, Pittsburgh.
That was some demonstration of civic love and anticipation outside the Consol Energy Center and blocks in any direction Thursday night — tens of thousands of fans flooding the streets, gathering around big screens, ready to celebrate the Penguins’ Stanley Cup.
But the San Jose Sharks evidently didn’t get the memo.
The Californians showed an annoying lack of understanding of the script, a total disregard for the spirit of the thing.
Sometime between crawling out of California down 3-1 in games and suiting up for Game 5 in decidedly enemy territory, the Sharks must have figured out that it would be interesting to see what happened if they scored the first goal.
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
So you are tired, disappointed, perhaps even angry if you paid thousands for a ticket to get into Consol Energy Center Thursday night?
Get over it.
The Penguins still are going to win the Stanley Cup.
from Scott Cullen of TSN,
Martin Jones – San Jose’s netminder withstood a barrage of shots, stopping 44 of 46, as the Sharks won Game Five, 4-2, sending the series back to San Jose. In his past dozen games, Jones has posted a .932 save percentage and it was the third time in the Final that he’s recorded at least 38 saves.
Logan Couture – The leading scorer in this year’s playoffs was in on all of San Jose’s three first-period goals, recording a goal and two assists. He now has 29 points (9 G, 20 A) in 23 postseason games.
Melker Karlsson – Thrust into a bigger role in Tomas Hertl’s absence, Karlsson skated alongside Couture and Patrick Marleau and recorded a goal and an assist in Game Five, the second straight game in which he found the back of the net.
Matt Murray – It’s been an up-and-down Final for Pittsburgh’s goaltender, who allowed three goals on the first five shots he faced, and that was enough to cost the Penguins the game.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
"Just unbelievable," San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton said after his goalie's heroic performance in a 4-2, Game 5 victory on Thursday over the Pittsburgh Penguins that extended San Jose's season.
"You know, he's been doing it all year. Just not tonight, he does it every game for us. He's just a stud for us."
With his counterpart, Matt Murray, drawing comparisons to Ken Dryden because of their similarly magnificent rookie playoffs, it was Jones channeling his inner Johnny Bower, his 44 saves the most in a Stanley Cup finals regulation game since the former Toronto Maple Leafs great made 43 in Game 2 of the 1967 finals.
So, there's that.
"Yeah, that was unbelievable," Sharks defenseman Justin Braun said. "He's calm, he doesn't flinch, he doesn't go after guys, he doesn't lose his cool. He's always tapping us on the pads saying we did a good job, and he's usually bailing us out. He was great to watch tonight, but we've got to give him a little more help."
added 8:07pm, from Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea,
from Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters,
There was a big party planned here tonight. The Penguins were going to win the Stanley Cup and unleash a celebration unlike anything this city has ever seen.
The summer was about to start for the NHL.
But the Sharks' stars had other ideas.
San Jose's top players, most of them at least, kept their season going. Their highest-priced players gave them their first in-game lead of the series and their franchise goaltender helped them keep it most of the game.
The Penguins played a pretty strong game for the most part. But this contest came down to a few crucial mistakes and a brickwall of a goaltender named Martin Jones refusing to let his team go down without one more home game.
With rookie goaltender Matt Murray not playing his sharpest of games, the Penguins fell behind early despite ample opportunity to do so, they never truly recovered.
As a result, the Penguins, the Sharks and the NHL will delay summer by a few more days.
Watch the game highlights below...
Hockey Night in Canada kicks off with City and Colour as the Penguins look for a Stanley Cup victory.
Is tonight the end of the NHL season?
If the Penguins wins, the party starts in Pittsburgh, if not, Game 6 will be in San Jose Sunday night.
Tonight's game is on NBC, CBC and TVAS with the puck drop around 8:15pm ET.
Enjoy the game and feel free to comment on it too.
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.
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