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NHL: Late goal allows Penguins to take Game 1 of Stanley Cup

By Alan Robinson Sports Xchange PITTSBURGH -- Nick Bonino scored the tiebreaking goal with 2:33 remaining in the third period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins survived blowing a two-lead lead to beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 Monday night in Game 1 of ...

By Alan Robinson

Sports Xchange

PITTSBURGH - Nick Bonino scored the tiebreaking goal with 2:33 remaining in the third period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins survived blowing a two-lead lead to beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 Monday night in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Game 2 will be Wednesday night at Consol Energy Center before the series shifts to the West Coast.

Bryan Rust, who later left the game with an undisclosed injury, and fellow rookie Conor Sheary scored 1:02 apart in a Pittsburgh-dominated first period, but the Sharks’ Tomas Hertl and Patrick Marleau responded with goals in a San Jose-dominated second.

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Bonino broke the tie several minutes after both Patric Hornqvist and Phil Kessel missed excellent chances for the Penguins, who are trying to win their fourth Stanley Cup in 25 years. Defenseman Kris Letang accepted a big hit to get the puck out from the end boards, and he found Bonino in front for a shot the center directed inside the near post and past goalie Martin Jones.

Rookie goalie Matt Murray - who like Rust and Sheary were in the minors part of the season - made the lead stand up by making several strong saves during a Sharks power play in the final three minutes. Murray made 24 saves to 38 for Jones, who was under constant pressure throughout the first and third periods in the first Stanley Cup finals game in Sharks history.

The Sharks looked as if they were three time zones behind Pittsburgh speed wise when the game began, and the Penguins quickly opened up a 2-0 lead in the 12th Stanley Cup finals game played on their home ice.

Rust got it started at 12:46, swatting in the rebound of a Justin Schultz shot that deflected off Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic directly to Rust for his sixth of the playoffs. That’s one more than Rust has in regular-season play, and gave him three straight and four of the last five Penguins playoff goals.

Sheary, another rookie who came up from the Penguins’ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL) farm club when Mike Sullivan was promoted to the Pittsburgh job in mid-December, made it 2-0 only 1:02 later. Sidney Crosby gained control of the puck along the half-wall and made a laser-precise pass to Sheary in the right circle for a shot that flew under the crossbar.

The second period was the polar opposite, with the Sharks dominating and the Penguins looking like they were a long stride slow on every play.

Playing with patience and not deterred by being down two goals on an opponent’s ice in the first Stanley Cup finals game in franchise history, the Sharks cut it to 2-1 when Hertl beat Murray from along the goal line at 3:02 for their 18th power-play goal of the playoffs.

Marleau, drafted in 1997, tied it late in the second by beating Murray with a backhander, his first goal in the finals after scoring 64 goals in 165 playoff games.

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NOTES: The Penguins are appearing in their fifth Cup final in 25 years, all under different coaches. C Sidney Crosby and C Evgeni Malkin each played in their 14th Stanley Cup Finals game. ... The Sharks are trying to become the third California team to win the Stanley Cup in 10 seasons, joining the Anaheim Ducks (2007) and Los Angeles Kings (2012, 2014). ... Penguins D Trevor Daley (broken left leg) hasn’t ruled out returning in the finals, but it seems unlikely. He was hurt on May 20. ... Sharks F Matt Nieto (upper body injury) remains out; he last played May 9. ... The Sharks came into the series with seven players who have scored five goals or more this postseason. The Penguins had five. ... Penguins RW Phil Kessel, who has a team-high nine goals in the playoffs, said he’s disappointed to have been left off Team USA for the World Cup this fall.

 

Related Topics: HOCKEY
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