Penguins lead series 1-0
The San Jose Sharks are in an unfamiliar position, trailing a series for the only the second time in this postseason as they prepare to square off with the host Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Nick Bonino’s goal with 2:33 to play in regulation was the difference as Pittsburgh prevailed 3-2 in the series opener.
San Jose, which also lost Game 1 of the Western Conference finals before rebounding to win in six games, is 5-1 after a loss in the playoffs — the lone defeat coming in triple overtime at Nashville in the second round. “It reminds me a lot of St. Louis, Game 1. I know we’re going to get better,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer told reporters. “Our execution’s got to get better. Part of it was some of the pressure they put on, but part of it was self-inflicted.” The Penguins could be without rookie Bryan Rust, who scored both goals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final and netted the opening tally in Game 1 versus the Sharks. Rust is listed as day-to-day after absorbing a check to the head from Patrick Marleau, who will face no additional punishment from the league.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVAS
Sharks – Martin Jones (W/L: 12-7, GAA: 2.17, SAVE %: .918)
Penguins – Matt Murray (W/L: 12-4, GAA: 2.20, SAVE %: .927)
ABOUT THE SHARKS (58-34-9, 51-39 O/U): San Jose had trouble coping with Pittsburgh’s speed and was outshot 41-26 — the first time the Sharks permitted more than 40 shots in regulation since March 7. The bigger concern for San Jose, however, was its own failure to sufficiently pressure Pittsburgh rookie netminder Matt Murray. “It’s about getting traffic, getting shots,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski told reporters. “We need a few more attempts early on, test him, not let him get settled in, the way he was last night. If you can get shots, get free around the net, we got a few rebounds.” Speedy forward Matt Nieto, out since he was injury in Game 6 of the second round, could rejoin the lineup for Game 2.
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (61-30-10, 45-38 O/U): Bonino entered the Finals with a team-high 12 assists for Pittsburgh, but he enhanced his big-game reputation with his fifth career game-winning goal in the postseason — the last four of which have come in the last three minutes of regulation or overtime. “He does all the things right,” teammate Chris Kunitz said of Bonino. “Any time you’re in the slot, get him the puck. It seems like we find a way to win when he scores.” If Rust is unable to play, the most likely candidate to take the rookie’s place would be veteran Eric Fehr, who played on the line with Evgeni Malkin and Kunitz until Rust replaced him in the Eastern Conference finals. “(Rust is) one of the hottest guys we have going on our team right now,” said Fehr, who has two goals in the postseason. “So hopefully he’ll be able to regroup.”
* Sharks are 8-1 in their last 9 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
* Penguins are 5-1 in their last 6 Stanley Cup Finals games.
* Under is 4-0 in Penguins last 4 Stanley Cup Finals games.
* Under is 6-1-1 in the last 8 meetings in Pittsburgh.
* Home team is 13-4 in the last 17 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: At the time of publication of this preview, the Pittsburgh Penguins are grabbing 55 percent of the public picks and Over 5 is leading the way in totals wagering at 57 percent. View full consensus data here.
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