Sharks Stay Alive, Put The Cup On Ice

The San Jose Sharks stunned the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, 4-2, to stave off elimination and send the series back to California for Game 6 Sunday night.

The Sharks got off to a fast start, as defenseman Brent Burns scored 1:04 into the game, as he went short-side on Penguins goalie Matt Murray, slipping the puck between Murray’s right arm and the post.

Burns said of the opening goal, his comfort level, making a play like that, and what it did for the team early in the game, “Did you ask if I was comfortable pinching? It was a good forecheck by Karly (Melker Karlsson). Just tried to help him out. I think there was a change. Yeah, it was good. We talked about trying to get a better start, get off to the lead. It was a good start for the team.

Sharks Head Coach Pete DeBoer said of the emotion when Burns scored, and if he saw a difference in his game when he gets an early goal, “I think Burnsy brings the same energy every night. It’s not realistic he’s going to score every night. I think he consistently tries to be a difference maker in every game he plays. That’s the beauty of him. Tonight that was a huge goal for us. We’ve been talking about getting the first goal. It was big to get it. We took a couple penalties in the first, which kind of took the momentum away. They obviously scored on one of them.

“It was a step in the right direction from a start point of view. We have to continue to build on that.”

That was just the start, Logan Couture got his ninth of the playoffs to make it 2-0 Sharks 2:53 into the first.

Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan said of there being anything that stood out to you about what the San Jose forwards did, or Burns jumping up, “No, Burns is in the rush all the time. That’s part of what he brings to their team. He’s a very good player. He has the ability to generate offense from the blueline. I just think that’s part of their identity. That’s part of his identity as a player. We certainly have to be aware of him when he’s on the ice. Like I said, I thought as a group, for the most part, there’s a lot of this game that we really liked.”

Incredibly, just under two minutes later, Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin scored 22 seconds apart to tie the game for the Penguins.

For a series in which offense has been a premium, it was a shock to see four goals in the first 5:06 of this one.

The game settled down for a while, until Melker Karlsson slipped a shot by Murray to make it 3-2 Sharks with 5:13 left in the first. It was a shot that bounced off Murray’s blocker and he should have been able to corral it.

Sharks goalie Martin Jones made that lead stand up the rest of the way, as he made 44 saves. Jones made some incredible saves throughout the final two periods to hold off a Penguins attack that produced 46 shots.

Jones said of his performance, “Thought we did a good job. A lot of stuff around the net tonight. I thought everybody did a good job battling around the net. They throw a lot of pucks to the net. That’s just kind of the way they play. I thought we were good in the D zone.

DeBoer said of the game Jones and Couture (1 goal, 1 assist) had to get them the victory, “Excellent. Both of them were excellent. We needed some big‑game performances from guys. Jonesy was one of those guys in a tough environment. I thought we got big games from some other people, too. We found a way to stay alive and bring it back to San Jose.”

DeBoer said of what point during the season he really started to think Jones could be his number one goalie, “I spent a month with him at the World Championships. He backed up Mike Smith last year. We won a gold medal. Mostly practice. He played one game. I got to know him as a person, being around that team.

“I think right away you recognized his composure, how calm and cool he was even in that situation. Then the big question was whether there was a competitive edge there with that composure. That’s always the million‑dollar question.

“We started the season, it didn’t start as smoothly for any of us as we wanted. I mean, we were winning one, losing one, including him. Just kept battling and battling. Kept throwing him out there, he kept finding a way. I think we all recognized then that he had that competitive edge, too, that is critical,” said DeBoer.

Couture said of Jones, “Yeah, he was great. He made some big‑time saves. He’s been playing like this for a long time, regular season, playoffs. A lot of people unfortunately don’t get to see him, us being on the West Coast. He’s been unbelievable for us.”

Jones said of the job that the Sharks defense did in giving him clear looks at shots, “Yeah, we did a good job. The pucks that did get through, like I said, we did a good job battling in front of the net. A lot of scrambles around the net. We did a great job there. ”

Jones said of this being his best game in the playoffs and if a goalie gets a special thrill out of winning an elimination game like this, “I don’t know. It’s hard to say. I felt good tonight. I thought our D did a good job, like I said, in front of the net. We got a few bounces. It was a combination of things.

The Sharks sealed the victory late in the third period when Joe Thornton made a great play to get the puck out of their zone, and got it to Joe Pavelski for an empty-net goal with 1:20 left to make it 4-2 and send to the exits in Pittsburgh.

Couture said of the feeling on the bench as the Penguins were making their push late in the game, “To be honest, nothing changed. The biggest thing with our group in this playoffs and this season compared to years past is the composure, the calmness that we feel.

“Obviously it’s tough. You get a two‑goal lead, it’s gone in a matter of a minute, minute and a half. But be calm, get back out there, get another good shift. We were able to score again. Melker gave us the lead again. Jonesy did the rest.”

Sullivan was asked if the Penguins could have done much more in the second period, particularly getting guys and pucks to the net, “No, I thought we did all of the above. I thought we had traffic at the net. We had pucks to the net. There were people there. We had rebound opportunities. We couldn’t seem to find that third goal. But I give our players a lot of credit. We stayed with it throughout the course of the game. It was just one of those nights we couldn’t find that goal.”

On if he noticed anything different about his goaltender, Matt Murray, in Game Five than in previous games, specifically in the first period, Sullivan said, “No. I thought our team as a whole was a little bit unsettled at the first part of the game, but we settled in fast.
Obviously we didn’t have the start that we would have liked. But I really liked the fact that we battled back as quick as we did, making it a 2‑2 game right away. The reality is there’s a lot of hockey left at that point to be played. I thought Matt settled in as the game went on, just like our team.”

Sullivan said of how the Penguins handled the excitement and emotion of possibly winning the Cup on Thursday night, “I thought they handled it fine. When you look at how the game was played, there’s a lot of things to like about how we played. I loved our energy. I thought we were on the puck. I thought we were fast. I thought we controlled territory. I thought we controlled the scoring chances, the shot clock.

“There are a lot of things that I think we can build on. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. These are two really good teams playing against one another. The elimination game is always the most difficult. We knew it going in. We knew we were going to have to bring our best. I thought we did a lot of really good things out there.”


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