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Stanley Cup Final

Penguins expect 'big challenge' from Sharks in Final

Pittsburgh coach Sullivan impressed by San Jose depth, goaltending

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Friday he expects a tough series against the San Jose Sharks in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Penguins, who defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final on Thursday, will host Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"[The Sharks] are a really good team," Sullivan told "NHL Live." "You obviously don't get this far if you're not a deep team and you don't have threats on every line, you don't play solid away from the puck and you don't get a timely save. That's what it takes to make it this far. It's a hard trophy to win. We are well aware of it. We know we've got a big challenge ahead of us in a really good Sharks team and we are going to do our best to put our best game on the ice."

The Penguins are 7-3 at home in the playoffs.

"It was electric," Sullivan said of Game 7. "It's one of the loudest buildings I think in all of the years that I've been associated with this league. That third period down to the dying seconds of that game might have been one of the loudest buildings that I've heard."

Sullivan has ties with at least one player on the Sharks. He was a Boston Bruins teammate of Joe Thornton in 1997-98 and coached the Bruins from 2003-06. Thornton, who was traded to San Jose from Boston in 2005, has three goals and 15 assists in 18 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"He's a great player," Sullivan said of Thornton. "He's obviously shown it over the years with what he's been able to accomplish in the game. He's a tremendous player. Has been for a long time. To see him in his elder years (36) be part of a team in San Jose that he has made such a significant contribution, it doesn't surprise me.

"The thing that always jumped out at me with Joe was how much he always loved the game. You can see in his older years that he still brings that passion to the rink and that same joy to the game. Kudos to him that he has been such a big part of this team that we are going to play against in the Stanley Cup Final."

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