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Magic playoff run ends
Sharks fall in Game 6 ending Stanley Cup Finals
6/12/16 - By Mike Lee -

Time ran out for the Sharks on Sunday night. Literally and figuratively. As the puck skidded down a sheet of bad ice, the clock ticked to zero on the Sharks storybook playoff run, ending with the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrating as they hoped to do. Another tight hockey game ended in favor if Pittsburgh, which was all the Penguins needed to cap a 3-1 win over San Jose at SAP Center on Sunday. The Sharks offense failed them for a fourth time in the series, ending a series that was probably more lopsided than the game scores suggested.

The blitzkrieg that the Penguins fast-paced offense was something the Sharks could never adjust to. It was that offense that seemingly kept the puck in the Sharks zone all series long. On Sunday night, that reality was punctuated by a 3rd period that saw the Sharks generate a series low two shots on goal.

It was the most important period of the Sharks season, but the Penguins defense stymied the Sharks. Not only was Penguins goaltender Matt Murray not tested in that 3rd period, he may have forgotten what a puck even feels like.

The Sharks were outgunned, and the Penguins had nothing to de except wait out their overmatched opponent.

With the Sharks net abandoned, the Penguins floated the puck down ice and began to celebrate. Time hadn't even fully expired when Penguin players rushed off the bench, tossing gloves and sticks high in the air as they rushed Murray, swarming him in a sea of white jerseys.

As is customary for the losers, the Sharks solemnly gathered on the opposite end of the ice, watching what might have been.

They huddled on the opposite end of the ice waiting to extend their congratulations to an opponent that celebrated on Sharks ice and took their time doing it. San Jose players had to wait an agonizing eternity, forced to absorb the spoils of victory from the opposite end of the battle field.

The traditional handshake was conducted at center ice, then Sharks players paid one last tribute to the San Jose faithful with raised sticks, before quickly departing the ice. It was the only thing the Sharks did faster than the Penguins all series.

Game 6 was a tale of two teams. One fighting to end things and get on to a celebration and the other still trying to figure out their opponent. It was the Penguins that continued to play the same confounding game that seemed to handcuff the Sharks all series.

The Penguins capitalized on a Dainius Zubrus tripping penalty in the opening period, grabbing a 1-0 lead on a Brian Dumoulin goal 8:16 into the contest. Dumoulin fired a shot from the left point that somehow slipped past Sharks goaltender Martin Jones.

Jones was the Sharks savior in Game 5, but Dumoulin's shot found a seam under the netminder's blocker pad in what looked like a routine play. It was a bad omen for the Sharks, who allowed the Penguins to score the game's opening goal for the 5th time in the series.

The Sharks lack of speed was showcased later in the period when Joel Ward found himself on a breakaway midway through the period. Penguins forward Chris Kunitz hustled back and waved a stick at the space in front of Ward, stick checking the puck away from the Sharks forward.

Brent Burns missed on a point blank shot on goal 4 minutes later, lifting a shot well over the Penguins goal, to keep the Penguins lead in tact.

Jones denied a wave of shots late in the period to keep the Sharks deficit at a single goal, making a series of saves that came from all angles. He would top that with a kick save on Nick Bonino 3 minutes into the 2nd period that would have sunk the Sharks into a deeper hole.

Logan Couture, San Jose's lone offensive bright spot in the series, knotted the game at 1-1 6:27 into the 2nd period with a shot from just inside the left circle after he carried the puck into the Penguins zone. It was one of the few scoring chances that San Jose had all night and even then Couture was forced to get his shot off with a defender between he and the Pittsburgh net.

The tie would be short lived and was indicative of the Sharks defensive woes that would repeatedly bite them in the series. Once again, defenseman Roman Polak coughed up a puck in his own zone, allowing Sidney Crosby to pick his pocket along the left wing boards. Crosby circled behind the Sharks net and fed Kris Letang on the right side for a quick shot that bounced off Jones and into the net.

Jones attention was focused on Crosby as he skated out of the left corner, and turned his head too late to pick up the shot off Letang's stick. The goal came 89 seconds after Couture's goal and put the Penguins right back on top.

In a showcase of captain Joe Pavelski's woes throughout the series, the centerman finally was able to get a shot off without a Penguins defenseman in his face and it beat Murray, but it was 18 inches wide of the Sharks goal.

Evgeni Malkin missed on what everyone in the building was a slam dunk goal with 5 minutes left in the frame. Kunitz and Malkin setup a give-and-go that was one pass too many. Kunitz had Jones beat, but never even looked at the open goal, intent on getting Malkin the puck on the right side. The big Russian forward was a stride late, tipping the puck wide of the net.

The 3rd period was once again all Pittsburgh. Only Jones heroics kept the game close. Phil Kessel fell victim to Jones larceny with another kick save on a one time chance from just outside the left post early in the period.

A slashing penalty to Burns cut another 2 minutes off the clock, killing the Sharks chances.

Forced to pull Jones late, Marc-Edouard Vlasic's shot attempt from the left point was blocked by Crosby, who then dished it to Patric Hornqvist who streaked up the middle of the ice. Burns tried to interfere with the Penguins forward, but it wasn't enough as Hornqvist fired the puck into the empty net to seal the series.

Game Notes:

* The Sharks held a momentum of silence before the game for the victims of the horrific mass shooting in Orlando less than 24 hours earlier. The arena was eerily silent as public address announcer Danny Miller asked those in attendance to honor those who were killed.

* Red Wings legend Gordie Howe was honored right before the start of the 2nd period as players were warming up for the faceoff. All 10 skaters on the ice stopped in their tracks and focused on the center ice video board to watch the short tribute to Howe who died on Friday.

* San Jose capped it's 25th season by having former players Scott Hannan, Mike Rathje, Evgeni Nabokov, Kyle McLaren and Mike Ricci open the locker room door before the start of the game. San Jose had local celebrities open the door throughout the playoffs, but with Sunday's game being the last home game of the season regardless of the outcome, the team elected to showcase players from their past to perform the pre-game ritual.

* In another major statistical letdown, the Sharks lost 65% of the draws in Game 6. Both Crosby and Nick Bonino were 13 of 17, accounting for 26 of the Penguins 35 faceoff wins. Logan Couture was a dismal 4 of 14 and Joe Pavelski was 6 of 16.

* We'll find out tomorrow who was injured and who wasn't. Pavelski was suffered from invisibility in the series, having scored one goal in the 6 games, and that lone tally was an empty netter in Game 5. Tomas Hertl was seen hobbling around the arena with a soft cast around his leg. Hertl is believed to have injured a knee, possibly his meniscus.

* Couture led the team with 4 shots on goal in Game 6. No other Shark had more than 2 shots on goal.

* Brent Burns recorded a game-high 8 hits in the contest.

* Boos rained down on NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman as he presented the Conn Smythe trophy to Crosby, and then again when he presented the Stanley Cup to the Penguins captain. Needless to say, Bettman is not exaclty a favored personality in San Jose.


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1 2 3 T
PIT 1 1 1 3
SJ 0 1 0 1
1st period - 1, PIT, Dumoulin 2 (Schultz, Kunitz), 8:16, (pp).
2nd period - 2, SJ, Couture 10 (Karlsson, Burns), 6:27. 3, PIT, Letang 3 (Crosby, Sheary), 7:46.
3rd period - 4, PIT, Hornqvist 9 (Crosby), 18:58, (en).
1st period - Zubrus, SJ (tripping), 7:50.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - Sheary, PIT (hooking), 5:26; Burns, SJ (slashing), 11:02; Fehr, PIT (high sticking), 19:50.
Shots Saves
PIT - Murray 19 18
SJ - Jones 26 24
SJ - empty net 1 0
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
PIT 9 11 7 27
SJ 4 13 2 19
Power Play Conversion
PIT 1 of 2
SJ 0 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Sidney Crosby
Kris Letang
Martin Jones
Referees: McCauley, Sutherland. Linesmen: Murphy, Racicot.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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