Pittsburgh won for just the second time in its past 15 visits to SAP Center, grabbing control of the Stanley Cup Final with a 3-1 victory on Monday. The Penguins have a chance to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup on home ice for the first time and it’s an opportunity they don’t want to let slip away.
Bet on the Stanley Cup Playoffs at BookMaker.eu.
Pittsburgh has controlled the series and has yet to trail at any point of actual running time. The Penguins speed and willingness to block shots has taken San Jose out of its comfort zone. Playing with the lead can do that as well. With a chance to win the Cup on home ice, the Penguins will be heavily favored to get the job done on Thursday.
We’ve seen plenty of scoring chances throughout the series but the goalies have been stellar, helping to cash the under tickets in all four meetings. Game 5 could be the one where offense rules. San Jose has to pop the lid and get a few goals and will sell out to do that. In turn that will create odd-man rushes and opportunities for the Penguins. At some point the teams will have touch the back of the net more than they have so far.
With the Sharks having so much difficulty penetrating the Penguins defense, so much pressure sits squarely on netminder Martin Jones to stop every Pittsburgh shot. And while he’s done a good job, it just hasn’t been good enough. For the third time in four games, Jones surrendered a late goal with Eric Fehr’s tally at 17:58 of the third essentially putting an end to San Jose’s chances in the 3-1 Game 4 loss.
Monday’s game wasn’t his best. Jones faced the fewest shots in a game this series and gave up three goals. But don’t blame him for the Sharks being down 3-1 in the series. If not for him, San Jose would have been blown out.
Two nights after allowing a soft game-tying goal to Joel Ward and the overtime winner from a sharp angle, Matt Murray was study throughout to put the Penguins on the cusp of their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history. Murray stopped 23 shots and, although he allowed one goal, was sharpest in the third period when San Jose made a late charge.
Murray stopped 11 shots in the final period and saw as many shots over the final 20 minutes as he did during the first 40. He’s frustrated the Sharks the entire series stopping 91 of 98 shots and hasn’t allowed more than two goals during regulation time. His 14 postseason wins are one shy of the most by a rookie goalie in a single postseason.
San Jose’s only lead in the series came at the end of Game 3 when Joonas Donskoi netted the overtime game-winner. A lack of scoring from the team’s big guns has the Sharks scrambling for opportunities and constantly playing from behind has taken them out of their game. San Jose has been chasing Pittsburgh the entire series, and according to coach Pete DeBoer, the Sharks have been taken out of their four-line rhythm which affects all parts of their game.
The easy solution is to score first and play with a lead. San Jose was able to do that in the first three rounds, but not against Pittsburgh’s hyperactive defense, which has slowed down playoff scoring leader Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton and Brent Burns. The four have a combined six points this series. None has found the back of the net.
The Penguins seem like a team of destiny, riding the wave of an incredible postseason run. Pittsburgh was all but counted out of the postseason after struggling through the first two months of the regular year. A coaching change seemed to spark the veteran group, the influx of younger players found their footing in the NHL, and the emergence of Murray between the pipes has the flightless birds on the verge of hoisting the Stanley Cup.
Defenseman Ben Lovejoy commented after Game 3 that the Pens would do anything to win. That he would stop a Brent Burns slap shot with his face if needed. The Sharks keep saying they can play better. That sums up the dynamic of each team and with a chance to win the Cup on their home ice for the first time, don’t expect Pittsburgh to let up.
NHL Odds: Pittsburgh 4, San Jose 2
Load your betting bankroll from your smartphone or tablet with BookMaker's new cashier feature! Depositing and withdrawing funds from your account has never been easier. BookMaker's live betting platform means you always have access to odds and lines to every sporting event. Click here, and start wagering today! The puck drops for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 9, 2016 at Consol Energy Center. The game will be televised live on NBC.