Stanley Cup Final Recap: Sheer Joy in Pittsburgh, Penguins take 2-0 Series Lead Over Sharks

Conor Sheary's overtime goal gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. (Photo: @penguins Twitter page)

San Jose Sharks vs Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins rookie forward Conor Sheary scored 2:35 into overtime to give his team a 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The series will shift to San Jose’s SAP Center for Game 3 on Saturday, June 4th (8:00 pm ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

“It’s pretty surreal,” Sheary said after winning the game. “It’s just an amazing moment. More importantly, we’re up 2-0.”

Sheary is just the fifth rookie in NHL history to score in overtime in the Stanley Cup Final.

The start of Game 2 mirrored that of Game 1. The Penguins controlled the play throughout the opening period but San Jose’s goaltender, Martin Jones, kept Pittsburgh off the scoreboard by stopping all 11 shots the Penguins sent his way. At the other end of the ice, Penguins netminder Matt Murray turned aside six shots.

Pittsburgh continued to assert itself using speed and a strong forecheck to hem the Sharks in their zone.

The forecheck paid off when Phil Kessel forced a Sharks defenseman to back in toward his goal line with the puck to Jones’ left. He tried to move up the ice but Carl Hagelin closed in, lifted the player’s stick and stripped him of the puck in the faceoff circle. Hagelin curled toward the middle of the ice, passed to Nick Bonino, who was driving the center lane to the net. Bonino cut to Jones’ right then swept the puck back to the goaltender’s left. The puck slid across the front of the crease past Jones. Kessel, who was moving in toward the crease, tapped the disc into an empty net giving Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 8:20 of the second period. The goal was the 10th of the playoffs for Kessel.

For most of the third period, Pittsburgh looked to be on their way to taking a two-game lead in the series but they appeared to let their collective foot off the gas for a five minute stretch late in the period and that was all San Jose needed.

The Sharks tied the game on Justin Braun’s first goal of the playoffs with 4:05 to play in the third period. The Sharks turned the tables on the Penguins with their forecheck during which Joel Ward won a battle for the puck and put it behind the Pittsburgh net where Logan Couture gained possession of it. Couture sent a pass back to the right point to Braun, who sent a slap shot that beat Murray low to the glove side and it was a 1-1 game.

In the OT, Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby won a faceoff to the left of Jones. The puck went back to Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, who moved it up into the faceoff circle to Sheary. The young forward placed a shot through the legs of a Sharks defender and it eluded Jones high over the glove hand. The lamplighter was the fourth of the playoffs for Sheary.

“Our message was ‘let’s just play’,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan answered when asked about his message to his club before the overtime. “Let’s just play our game and when we do that, we’re hard to play against. Sometimes it takes longer than three periods to get results but as long as we stay with it, we believe in the group that we have and the way that we play.”

Stat of the Night:

Teams winning Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final have won the series 73.7% (56-of-76 series) of the time since it went to best-of-seven in 1939.

Series Notes:

Conor Sheary’s game-winning goal was the first of his NHL career (63 career regular season and playoff games). He also scored in Game 1.

Pittsburgh’s HBK (Hagelin, Bonino, Kessel) line has combined for 50 points (19 goals, 31 assists) in 20 games of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Penguins are the 50th team to take a 2-0 series lead in a Final series since it went to a best-of-seven format. 44 of the other 49 teams won the Stanley Cup (89.8%).

Pittsburgh tied a franchise record with their 9th home win of the playoffs (also 1991, 2008, 2009).

Penguins goaltender Matt Murray improved his record to 13-4 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Only three rookie puck stoppers have more postseason wins (Patrick Roy-15, Ron Hextall-15, Cam Ward-15).

San Jose Sharks defenseman Justin Braun scored his 2nd career playoff goal in Game 2.

Overtime has been required in Game 2 in five of the last six Stanley Cup Final series (also 2011-2014).

Pittsburgh out-shot San Jose 30-22 in Game 2.

Thursday’s Stanley Cup Playoffs Schedule:

No Games Scheduled

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

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