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Stanley Cup Final

Berube: Sharks need to win battles to even series

Former coach says getting to pucks before Pittsburgh key for San Jose in Game 6

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

For additional insight into the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks, NHL.com has enlisted the help of Craig Berube to break down the action. Berube will be checking in throughout the series.

Berube, 50, was coach of the Philadelphia Flyers from 2013-15. He was a Flyers assistant for six seasons prior to being promoted to coach Oct. 7, 2013. The Flyers were 75-58-28 under Berube. They made the Stanley Cup Playoffs and lost to the Rangers in the first round in 2014.

SAN JOSE -- After watching San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones steal the show in a 4-2 win in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, former Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube was able to draw one definitive conclusion: The Sharks will be in deep trouble in Game 6 at SAP Center on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports) if they don't find a way to either outnumber or flat-out beat the Pittsburgh Penguins to the puck below the goal lines.

The problem is Berube isn't sure the Sharks can do it on a consistent enough basis.

Video: SJS@PIT, Gm5: Jones denies Sheary's chance

"They're going to come after the Sharks again with their speed and their tenacity," Berube said of the Penguins. "That's what I really see with them right now, they look like they're very committed in all areas. They're winning a lot of 1-on-1 battles. They outnumber you to win the battle. They really eliminate the Sharks' opportunities quickly, and I don't see that going away, I really don't.

"Jones played a great game in net [in Game 5], and I think he's going to have to continue to do that. I don't see the Penguins going away in Game 6."

Berube said coach Peter DeBoer has visual evidence he can show the Sharks as a way to stress how effective they can be on the odd times they do outnumber, or at least have equal numbers, against the faster Penguins.

Joonas Donskoi's overtime goal in Game 3 was a result of having equal numbers on the puck behind the goal line. Chris Tierney got the puck to Donskoi, who curled around the net and beat Penguins goalie Matt Murray with a short-side shot.

Brent Burns scored his goal at 1:04 of the first period of Game 5 the same way. Melker Karlsson won a foot race to the puck in the corner, got it to Burns, who came around the net and beat Murray on the shortside.

Berube also pointed out that Logan Couture's goal at 2:53 of the first period of Game 5 was another example of how the Sharks can and need to be effective against the Penguins. He scored on a deflection of defenseman Justin Braun's shot.

"The goal that Couture scored in Game 5 happened because Marleau goes in there, wins the battle on his own, cuts back, gets it up to the D and it's shot right away," Berube said. "Couture is all alone in front of the net and he tips it home. That's the kind of stuff they need to do, move the puck real quick down there below the goal line and get it to an area where they can have a little bit of time to do something with it."

Video: SJS@PIT, Gm5: Karlsson beats Murray from the doorstep

The fact that the Sharks are at home should help them too, Berube said. They at least were better at limiting the Penguins time with the puck in the two games played at SAP Center than in the three played at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

The Penguins are averaging 39 shots on goal per game in their three home games; they had 20 shots on goal in Game 4 at SAP Center after getting 42 in Game 3. However, their 42 shots were not telling of how Game 3 was played because the Sharks finished with a 79-76 edge in total shot attempts. Pittsburgh blocked 38 of San Jose's shot attempts.

"I think the Sharks have played better at home in terms of checking the Penguins," Berube said. "They have to continue to do that. They really need to play a tight checking game. They've got to understand that the Penguins have really good speed and they're flying right now, so the more the Sharks can be on them, get numbers in there and check these guys, they will get some chances the other way. If they can capitalize on the chances the other way and play a tight checking game, they will have an opportunity to win Game 6. If that can happen, you know how Game 7s go, they're up in the air. They can really flip it here in Game 6."

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