San Jose Sharks vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Nick Bonino scored his second game-winning goal of the postseason (fifth of his career) to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final at Pittsburgh’s Console Energy Center. With the win, Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final. Penguins goaltender Matt Murray turned aside 24 San Jose shots to earn his 12th win of the postseason. He is tied for second-most wins by a rookie goaltender in a playoff year.
“We got a nice chemistry of vets and young guys that complement each other,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said about his club. “Best of all, they play for each other.”
The first period was as fast as promised but it was Pittsburgh that was exhibiting most of the speed and they used it to open a two-goal lead in the frame.
Bryan Rust picked up where he left off when he scored the game’s opening goal. He scored both lamplighters in Game 7 versus Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Rust banged home a rebound of a Justin Schultz shot that came from the high slot after receiving a pass from Rust, who was along the left wing after skating the puck into the San Jose zone. After passing to Schultz, Rust broke for the net and found the rebound. The play began when Rust received a breakout pass from Chris Kunitz in the Penguins zone. The goal came at 12:46 of the first period and Pittsburgh had a 1-0 lead. It was Rust’s sixth goal of the playoffs setting a Penguins record in a single postseason.
Fellow rookie speedster Conor Sheary scored his first career Stanley Cup Final goal to give the Penguins a 3-0 lead just 1:02 after Rust scored. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby won a race with San Jose’s Justin Braun into the Sharks left wing corner. Crosby took possession of the puck by curling toward the boards then skated it back down along the wall, as a Sharks defender closed in on him, the Pittsburgh captain sent a pass across the ice to Sheary. Sheary held the puck in the right faceoff circle until Patric Hornqvist set up a screen in front of San Jose goaltender Martin Jones then released a wrist shot that sailed past Jones and into the left top corner.
“Doesn’t surprise us,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said about Rust and Sheary. “They’re good hockey players. They’ve stepped up and made big plays for us.”
After giving up two goals and 15 shots to the Penguins in the first period and putting only four shots on Murray, the Sharks were an improved team in the second period and cut their deficit to 2-1 only 3:02 into the second period with a power play goal off the stick of Tomas Hertl.
As the Sharks patiently worked the puck around the Penguins zone. Joel Ward was able to keep the puck in the Pittsburgh zone at the right point. He left it for Brent Burns, who passed it to Joonas Donskoi at the left half-wall. Donskoi moved the disc in deep to Hertl at the side of Jones’ crease and he swept it past the netminder for his sixth goal of the playoffs.
Patrick Marleau tied the score 2-2 with 1:42 to play in the period. He took possession of a Burns rebound at the right post of the Penguins net, carried it behind the goal and wrapped the puck off Murray’s skate and into the net. Logan Couture garnered the secondary assist.
The third period was more of what was expected as both teams used their speed to get scoring chances but the goaltenders kept each team from taking the lead until Nick Bonino broke the tie with 2:33 to play in the period.
Kris Letang brought the puck into the San Jose end and tried to get a shot off but Burns blocked it with his stick. The puck and Burns’ stick went into the right corner followed by Letang and Burns. As they battled for the puck, Pittsburgh winger Carl Hagelin came in to support Letang. As the puck slipped free, Hagelin tapped it to Letang and the Penguins defender found Bonino in the slot just to the left of the net. Letang threaded the puck through the sticks of Jones and Sharks defenseman Paul Martin onto Bonino’s tape and the former Anaheim Duck put a hard wrist shot into the top corner of the net.
“We didn’t play our game in the first period,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said after the game. “We stood around and watched. It’s the first game of the series. I know we’re going to get better. They were better than us and we’re going to fix that.”
Penguins forward Bryan Rust is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He was subjected to a hard hit from Patrick Marleau that may have targeted the head although replay shows Rust with his head down and reaching forward for the puck putting himself vulnerable to an injury.
Game 2 is scheduled for Pittsburgh’s Console Energy Center on Wednesday, June 1st at 8:00 pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
Stat of the Night:
The winner of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final has won 59 of 76 series (78%) since the best-of-seven series began in 1939.
The Penguins are the first Eastern Conference team to win a Game 1 in the Stanley Cup Final since the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes.
The game-winning goal has been scored in the last five minutes of regulation or later in each Stanley Cup Final series opener since 2011.
There will be a new Stanley Cup champion for the 17th consecutive season. The last team to repeat was the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998.
The San Jose Sharks are the first team to make its debut in the Stanley Cup Final since the 2007 Ottawa Senators. The last team to win the Stanley Cup in its first appearance was the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004.
Bryan Rust has nine points on six goals and three assists in 18 playoffs games. He had five goals and eight assists in 55 regular season games.
Per Elias Sports Bureau, Game 1 marked just the second time in Stanley Cup Final Game 1 history that the opening two goals were scored by rookies. It was also achieved in 1924 by Montreal’s Howie Morenz.
This is the third Stanley cup Final for Sidney Crosby. He also played in 2008 and 2009 both against Detroit.
Patrick Marleau’s goal was the 65th career playoff goal moving him into sole possession of 20th place in NHL history.
Pittsburgh finished with 41-26 advantage in shots on goal in Game 1.
Tuesday’s Stanley Cup Final Schedule:
No Game Scheduled
Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutheon.