The San Jose Sharks thought they improved from Game 1 to Game 2 in the Stanley Cup final. They still weren’t good enough to avoid a 0-2 hole against the Penguins. San Jose lost its fourth overtime game of the playoffs falling 2-1 on Wednesday night, but returns to SAP Center for Game 3 where they’ve won seven of nine this postseason.
Stanley Cup Playoff Odds at BookMaker.eu.
Pittsburgh Penguins +125
San Jose Sharks -145
After dropping the first two games on the road to fall in a hole in their first Stanley Cup final, the Sharks will host the Penguins for the next two contests hoping to climb back into the series. If their previous play at SAP Center during the postseason is any indication, the Sharks could have a chance at knotting the final. San Jose is 7-2 on its home ice during the playoffs and opened at -145 to pick up the first Stanley Cup final victory in franchise history.
The games are typically a bit tighter during the playoffs and even more closely played during the final. That’s been the case so far with the teams cashing the under in each of the first two games. The standard total of five is driven up a half-point with the two highest scoring playoff teams competing, but the over is 4-2-3 in San Jose’s home playoff games.
Sharks goalie Martin Jones has played all but 29:05 during the postseason and unless he gets hurt or lit up, he will be between the pipes for the duration. It’s not because of their netminder that the Sharks are in a 0-2 hole. Jones has stopped 66 of 71 Pittsburgh shots for a .930 save percentage and has been solid. However, the Pens scored a late goal in Game 1 and an early overtime winner in Game 2.
Jones put his club in position to steal a road victory, but unfortunately the Sharks offense couldn’t figure out Matt Murray and the Pens defense. As good as he was in Pittsburgh, Jones has been even better on his home ice, sporting a 1.75 goals against average and .936 save percentage.
Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray stopped 21 of 22 shots in Wednesday’s Game 2 victory with the lone goal allowed clanking in off the post through a maze of players late in the third that tied the game. The young netminder wasn’t fazed and did his best work in the final half minute, stopping a flurry of shots while the Sharks were buzzing for the winner.
Murray has surrendered just three goals on 48 San Jose shots through the first two games and at times early was bored due to a lack of work. But he came through when needed and the Sharks have vowed moving forward to make him work more. So Murray can expect to face a few more shots in Game 3.
Prior to reaching the Stanley Cup final, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski had 22 points in 18 playoff games. Since the series started he’s had exactly zero points in two games. He’s totaled eight shot attempts in the series with just three on net. In 18 playoff games leading up to the final, Pavelski had 61 shots on goal for an average of 3.4 per game. He also scored 13 times.
Is it because of something the Penguins are doing right or something the Sharks aren’t doing? A little bit of both, according to San Jose coach Pete DeBoer. With the Sharks playing at home, they’ll get the benefit of the last change and the hope is to match Pavelski and the top unit with a defensive pairing other than Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin. “As far as matchups go, it’s always nice to have the last change,” DeBoer said.
The Sharks keep saying they’re going to play better, but if they wait too long the series might be over. Besides, at this point in the season, is there anything more they can do? It was a better effort from the boys in teal on Wednesday. They limited Pittsburgh’s opportunities but failed to generate any sustained pressure until the final moments. It’s been a tight, low-scoring series so far, not too surprising, but not as wide-open as some expected given the offensive talent on the ice.
The Sharks badly need their Joes to show up. Pavelski and Thornton are scoreless in the two games and the drought is magnified by the losses. San Jose will be energized by the home crowd, but the Penguins have been the better team so far with superior speed and iron curtain defense. If the Sharks don’t get power play chances, they could find themselves deeper in a hole.
NHL Odds: Pittsburgh 4, San Jose 2
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