Stanley Cup Final Recap: Penguins One Win Away from Stanley Cup

Evgeni Malkin's (71) first goal of the Stanley Cup Final gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of the series. (Photo:

Pittsburgh Penguins vs San Jose Sharks

Evgeni Malkin was hearing the criticism. He was even hard on himself in saying he needed to play better in the Stanley Cup Final. He had not scored a goal in three Stanley Cup Final games. That changed in Game 4 when he scored his team’s second goal of the game which held up to be the game-winner. Malkin also assisted on a goal giving him two points on the night. Phil Kessel contributed two assists and goaltender Matt Murray turned aside 23 shots in Pittsburgh’s 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. With the victory, the Penguins took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“I thought he was really good,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said about Malkin. “Not just because he got on the scoresheet, obviously, that’s great for him. It’s great for us but I thought his overall game was really good. He played at both ends of the rink and when he plays that way, he’s just so hard to defend. It seems like the puck follows him around and I just thought he had one of his strongest games of the playoffs at an important time for us.”

Pittsburgh can win the Stanley Cup in Game 5 on Thursday, June 9 on home ice at the Consol Energy Center (8:00 pm ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Ian Cole was first to light the lamp on this night. He gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead over San Jose 7:36 into the first period. Phil Kessel skated the puck into the Sharks zone on the right wing and fired a wrist shot which was stopped by San Jose’s goaltender Martin Jones but he gave up a big rebound that slid over to Cole, who skated in uncontested on the left side of the ice and sent a wrist shot past Jones’ blocker. It was Cole’s first goal of the postseason.

The Penguins took that 1-0 lead into the dressing room after one period.

Pittsburgh extended its lead to 2-0 with a power play goal at 2:37 of the second period. Pittsburgh moved the puck around the Sharks’ end of the ice looking to set up a scoring chance. Malkin positioned himself at the right post. Kessel, on the left wing boards, received a pass from Kris Letang and moved into the faceoff circle before threading a pass to Malkin, who redirected the disc into the net before Jones could get in front of it.

After 40 minutes, the Penguins had a 2-0 lead and were in complete control of the contest.

The Sharks came out for the third period knowing they had 20 minutes to, essentially, save their season and controlled the play for the first half of the period.

Their tenacious puck pursuit worked when Melker Karlsson scored his 4th of the playoffs at 8:07 of the third period to cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 2-1. The play began with a mad scramble in front of Murray’s crease. A Penguins defenseman pushed the puck directly into the slot to an uncovered Karlsson and the native of Sweden put a shot over Murray’s outstretched pad for his fourth goal of the postseason.

The Sharks continued pressuring the Penguins but struggled in getting quality shots on Murray. Most of their shots were from the perimeter and were easily seen by Murray, who made the saves.

Pittsburgh’s Eric Fehr put the contest out of reach with 2:02 remaining in the third period. Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta chipped the puck out of his zone. Carl Hagelin chased it down just outside of the Sharks’ blue line. He collected the disc and sent a pass across the ice to Fehr, who carried it into the zone and beat Jones with a shot over the netminder’s blocker and Pittsburgh had a 3-1 lead.

Stat of the Night:

Teams that have had a 3-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final hold an all-time series record of 31-1 since it became a best-of-seven series in 1939. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs are the only team to win the Stanley Cup after trailing the Detroit Red Wings 3-1.

Series Notes:

Evgeni Malkin ranks 3rd on the all-time Pittsburgh Penguins playoff list with 10 game-winning goals. He trails Jaromir Jagr (14)  and Mario Lemieux (11).

Pittsburgh’s Ian Cole went 105 games between goals (regular season and playoffs). His last goal came on March 26, 2015.

Evgeni Malkin scored his 47th career playoff goal to move into 4th place in Penguins history. He trails Mario Lemieux -76, Jaromir Jagr-65, Sidney Crosby-49.

Phil Kessel leads the Pittsburgh Penguins with 21 points on 10 goals and 11 assists in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He now has 23 goals, 19 assists, 42 points in 44 career playoff games.

Matt Murray posted his 14th win of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, one shy of tying the NHL record for a playoff year.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have set an NHL Stanley Cup Playoff record with six of their ten SCF goals scored by American-born players.

After Game 4 of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, the score has been tied for 133:09. Pittsburgh has held the lead for 121:44. San Jose has held the lead for 00:00.

Tuesday’s Stanley Cup Playoff Schedule:

No Games Scheduled

Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.

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