Penguins lead series 3-2
Logan Couture has a knack of coming through in the clutch when the San Jose Sharks need him the most. Fresh off his fourth three-point performance of the playoffs, Couture looks to help the Sharks stretch the Stanley Cup final to its limit when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 on Sunday night.
The 27-year-old scored his first goal of the series and set up two tallies in Thursday’s 4-2 win in Game 5 to increase his NHL-leading point total to 29 (nine goals, 20 assists) in 23 games. “I just don’t want to go home,” Couture said of his previous three-point efforts in the clinching game of each round. While San Jose’s club-best sixth road win extended the Stanley Cup final, Pittsburgh was denied in its bid to secure the fourth title in franchise history – and first at home. Rookie goaltender Matt Murray permitted three goals on his first five shots to lead the Penguins’ undoing in Game 5, but is 5-0 in games following a loss in the postseason.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVAS
Penguins – Matt Murray: (W/L: 14-6, GAA: 2.14, SAVE %: .923)
Sharks – Martin Jones: (W/L: 14-9, GAA: 2.16, SAVE %: .922)
ABOUT THE PENGUINS: Evgeni Malkin has scored in consecutive contests and speedy forward Carl Hagelin also tallied on Thursday to record his fourth point (one goal, three assists) of the Stanley Cup final. Hagelin’s mates on the “HBK Line” each notched an assist in Game 5 as Phil Kessel collected his team-leading 22nd point while Nick Bonino is tied with Malkin for second place at 18. Hart Trophy finalist Sidney Crosby has been held off the scoresheet in each of the last three contests after recording nine points (three goals, six assists) in his previous 12 games.
ABOUT THE SHARKS: Second-year wing Melker Karlsson received a healthy dose of praise from coach Peter DeBoer for stepping up in the postseason, most notably in the absence of an injured Tomas Hertl (lower body). “Melker’s been excellent the entire playoffs, but particularly in the final. I think he’s really found another level here for us,” DeBoer told the San Jose Mercury-News of the 25-year-old Swede. “He’s disruptive on the forecheck and with his tenacity on the puck, he’s turning a lot of pucks over. If you’re a skill guy like Logan (Couture) playing with him, he’s going to create some turnovers with the way he forechecks and you’re there to make the next play.” Karlsson has collected five goals in the playoffs after recording just 10 during the regular season.
SERIES PRICE (Per Sports Interaction):
* Penguins are 2-12-1 in the last 15 meetings in San Jose.
* Penguins are 7-1 in their last eight Sunday games.
* Sharks are 8-2 in their last 10 home games.
* Under is 7-1 in Penguins last eight Stanley Cup Finals games.
* Under is 5-1-1 in Sharks last seven versus Eastern Conference opponents.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The early consensus has 62 percent of bettors backing the Sharks on home ice, while 67 percent of bettors think Game 6 will be a high-scoring affair and are on the over.
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