Penguins lead series 2-0
After serving as the NHL’s most dominant road team throughout the regular season, the San Jose Sharks are banking on the comforts of home to help bridge the gap with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup final. Winners of seven of their nine playoff contests at SAP Center, the Sharks look to rebound from a pair of one-goal setbacks in the Steel City when they host the Penguins in Game 3 on Saturday night.
“Obviously, we’re not coming home under the best circumstances, but we also know we’re a tough out, we’re going to be a tough team to beat at home,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer told reporters. Pittsburgh proved its worth at home in the first two contests of the series, with rookie Conor Sheary providing the exclamation point in Wednesday’s 2-1 overtime win to give the Penguins a 2-0 series lead. Fellow first-year player Matt Murray has turned aside 45-of-48 shots in the final to raise his playoff win total to 13, which is just two shy of the rookie record shared by Montreal’s Patrick Roy (1986), Philadelphia’s Ron Hextall (1987) and Carolina’s Cam Ward (2006). San Jose’s Martin Jones has stopped 66-of-71 shots in the first two contests as he attempts to thwart Pittsburgh’s bid to move within one game of its fourth Stanley Cup title.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, TVAS
Penguins – Matt Murray (W/L: 13-4, GAA: 2.13, SAVE %: .927)
Sharks – Martin Jones (W/L: 12-8, GAA: 2.16, SAVE %: .918)
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (62-30-10, 45-39 O/U): The “HBK Line” of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel has been quite the showstopper in the playoffs, as the players have combined for 50 points (19 goals, 31 assists) in 20 games. Kessel scored for the fifth time in eight contests when he recorded his team-leading 10th goal and 19th point in Game 2. Bonino collected his club-best 13th assist for his second point in the final and Hagelin has set up a tally in each contest versus the Sharks.
ABOUT THE SHARKS (58-34-10, 51-40 O/U): One day after claiming that Sidney Crosby cheats in the faceoff circle, Logan Couture did his best to quiet the stir by including a lot more people on that list. “Everyone cheats on faceoffs,” Couture told reporters on Friday. “I cheat, Jumbo (teammate Joe Thornton) cheats. That’s how you try to win draws. (Crosby’s) one of the best at it. He wins a lot of faceoffs.” Couture has won four of seven draws versus Crosby, but San Jose has struggled in the circle by winning just 46.7 percent of faceoffs in the playoffs.
* Penguins are 7-1 in their last 8 vs. Western Conference.
* Sharks are 7-1 in their last 8 home games.
* Under is 5-0 in Penguins last 5 Stanley Cup Finals games.
* Under is 3-0-1 in Sharks last 4 vs. Eastern Conference.
* Under is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings.
* Penguins are 1-11-1 in the last 13 meetings in San Jose.
COVERS CONSENSUS: San Jose is picking up a giant percentage of the Covers Consensus action – currently sitting at 75 percent. The total has move up from the usual 5.0 to 5.5 and the public is pouncing on the Under at a rate of 62 percent. View full consensus data here.
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