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Late miscue costs Sharks SCF Game 1
San Jose battles back from 2-0 deficit to fall in final 3 minutes
5/30/16 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks waited 25 years to make their first appearance, but they kicked off their first showing with a bang in Game 1 vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rust and nerves got the best of San Jose, who dropped the opener, but it was a battle to the end. San Jose battled back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game, but a miscue late in regulation cost the Sharks, who dropped a 3-2 decision to the Penguins.

Now we get to see what this team is made of. There were plenty of positives to build off of, but now it's up to the Sharks to make something of those positives.

San Jose had to deal with a juggernaut in the 1st period. Pittsburgh used the team speed that everyone has been touting to blitz the Sharks in the opening 20 minutes that potted a pair of goals for the Penguins. The Penguins out shot the Sharks 15-4 in the 1st and had the Sharks on their heels from the get go.

Pittsburgh started to really push after the first 5 minutes. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby missed from the doorstep on a play that forced Sharks goaltender Martin Jones to make a big save. Patric Hornqvist was right behind Crosby and almost jammed the follow up home.

Penguins goaltender Matt Murray could have had a pedicure and lunch while he waited for the Sharks to throw any rubber his way. The only pressure that Murray faced in the period was a Nick Spaling shot from the slot at 6:30.

The Penguins drew first blood 12:46 in when the Sharks got caught with a pair of forwards deep in the Pittsburgh zone and then defenseman Justin Braun decided to pinch on a play that turned into a 3-on-2 rush up ice for home team. Rookie Bryan Rust deposited a shot once the puck reached the opposite end of the ice. Martin Jones was outnumbered thanks to Braun's ill-timed decision.

Conor Sheary made it 2-0 Pittsburgh 62 seconds later when Braun over-skated the puck, allowing Sidney Crosby to send a backhand pass through the slot to Conor Sheary. The Penguins rookie used a Hornqvist screen to snap a shot past Martin Jones from the right side. Sheary lifted his shot, catching the top left corner of the net for the 2-0 lead.

Ian Cole was sent off for hooking 1:14 into the 2nd period, setting up the Sharks first power play of the evening. Tomas Hertl made the Penguins pay, stuffing his 6th goal of the playoffs past Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray with a shot from along side the right post.

The Sharks just missed tying the game three minutes later when Murray was forced to defend a shot from the high slot. The puck bounced to the left side when Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gathered it and tried to slip it home from the side of the crease. Murray extended his left pad to deny Pavelski.

San Jose got the equalizer with 1:48 left in the period, when Patrick Marleau grabbed a loose puck behind the net, then took two strides along the end boards before wrapping a backhand chance around the left post. The puck clipped Murray's right skate, deflecting into the Penguins goal for the 2-2 tie. The goal was Marleau's 5th of the playoffs.

Pavelski was whistled for a tripping penalty when Brian Dumoulin stepped on the forward's stick before dropping to the ice. Thornton and Evgeni Malkin were also sent off at the same whistle for mixing it up with their sticks away from the Pavelski trip.

San Jose killed the penalty, but then Marleau was sent off for an illegal check to the head of Rust after the Sharks forward cut across the blueline and dropped hi shoulder as the Penguins forward tried reaching for a puck.

Rust was required to move to the NHL's quiet room, where he was examined and had to pass the league's mandatory protocol for head injuries. He spent several minutes in the room until he could pass several tests.

6:44 to play Pens with a rush that finished with a chance that Jones denied.

With regulation ticking away, the Sharks fell victim to the mistake that would cost them the game. With the Penguins forcing the puck into the Sharks end, defenseman Brent Burns had his stick swatted out of his hands. Burns tried to move the puck with his hand, but ended up pushing it to Kris Letang. Without a stick, Burns was helpless as Letang whipped the puck to the front of the net to former Sharks draft pick Nick Bonino, who lifted a shot past Jones for the 3-2 lead.

Paul Martin had coverage on the play, but he lost Bonino, and couldn't get his stick or a body on Bonino.

The goal would prove to be the game winner, after the Sharks failed to convert on a power play following a Ben Lovejoy hooking penalty on Marleau with 2:09 to play. San Jose pulled Jones for the extra attacker, but they couldn't organize a decent scoring chance.

It was a tough way to lose, given the comeback and the overall performance sans the first period. What it proved is that these two teams are pretty evenly matched, and the Sharks aren't out of this series by any stretch of the imagination.

It's what they do with the next chance.

We'll see how this plays out in 48 hours after Game 2 on Wednesday.

Game Notes:

* As has been the trend all playoffs, the Sharks failed to control the faceoff circle. Pittsburgh won 53% of all draws. Chris Tierney was a dismal 3 of 11 from the dots.

* Tierney had an overall forgettable experience. The forward was a -1, and did literally nothing else in his 14:31 of ice time. The Sharks 4th line was overmatched by the Penguins all night.

* Danius Zubrus once again led all skaters with 6 hits in the game. Zubrus has been a beast for San Jose and has embraced his role as the guy that needs to wear down the opposition with his physicality.

* Justin Braun led the Sharks with 4 blocked shots.

* Brauns' tough night on the ice in the 1st period was small potatoes compared to the personal issue the defenseman had to deal with on Monday. Braun's father-in-law and former NHLer Tom Lysiak passed away on Monday.

* Now the Sharks wait to see if Marleau will be suspended for his hit on Rust. Given Marleau's history as a perennial Lady Byng candidate, it would be surprising if the Sharks former captain was forced to sit.

* Bonino and Hornqvist combined for 12 of the Penguins 41 shots.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 0 2 0 2
PIT 2 0 1 3
1st period - 1, PIT, Rust 6 (Schultz, Kunitz), 12:46. 2, PIT, Sheary 3 (Crosby, Maata), 13:48.
2nd period - 1, SJ, Hertl 6 (Donskoi, Burns), 3:02, (pp). 4, SJ, Marleau 5 (Burns, Couture), 18:12.
3rd period - 5, PIT, Bonino 4 (Letang, Hagelin), 17:27.
1st period - ZUbrus, SJ (high sticking), 8:54.
2nd period - Cole, PIT (hooking), 1:14; Pavelski, SJ (tripping), 18:52; Thornton, SJ (roughing), 18:52; Malkin, PIT (slashing), 18:52.
3rd period - Marleau, SJ (illegal check to the head), 4:47; Lovejoy, PIT (hooking), 17:51.
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 41 38
PIT - Murray 26 24
PIT - empty net
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 4 13 9 26
PIT 15 8 18 41
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 2
PIT 0 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Nick Bonino
Conor Sheary
Patrick Marleau
Referees: O'Halloran, O'Rourke. Linesmen: Amell, Murray.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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