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Stanley Cup Final

Penguins believe better start is 'way to finish'

Pittsburgh remains confident after Sharks won Game 5 to extend Stanley Cup Final

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

SAN JOSE -- Evgeni Malkin simply said what is on his mind, and probably on the minds of all of his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates, in the aftermath of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

"Yeah, 4-2 we lost, but I think we played a little bit better than San Jose," Malkin said after practice Saturday. "They're a good team, but they were a little bit lucky."

Surely, the Sharks feel differently, but Malkin's point is well taken. The Penguins outshot the Sharks 46-22 and had a 76-36 edge in total shot attempts, including 66-29 at even strength.

The series is here for Game 6 on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports) because of Sharks goalie Martin Jones and his 44 saves in Game 5.

Video: SJS@PIT, Gm5: Jones makes 44 saves in Game 5 win

But the fact that the series has returned to SAP Center doesn't mean anything changes for the Penguins. And why would anything change? The opportunity hasn't changed.

Win one more game against the Sharks and the Stanley Cup is theirs. That's it. Simple. Straightforward. There's no need to overanalyze what's at stake Sunday.

"We felt terrible after the last game," Penguins left wing Patric Hornqvist said. "There was a lot of disappointment, but we met on the plane [Friday] and everybody was refocused. Today in practice, everybody was energized and ready to go. We just want to play the game."

The same question was asked of a number of Penguins on Saturday: If you play the same way you played in Game 5, will it be good enough to win Game 6?

Video: Sidney Crosby talks to the media after practice

The answers didn't change much.

"Yeah, I don't think you can ask for more," Penguins defenseman Kris Letang said, "especially the scoring chances against and the scoring chances for."

"We need to start a little bit better, but aside from that, we played a solid game," center Matt Cullen said. "We created a lot of offense and didn't give up a whole lot."

The "start" part is key.

The Sharks had a 2-0 lead less than three minutes into Game 5. That the Penguins had it tied by 5:06 of the first period didn't erase the fact that they had to chase in this series for the first time. They hated it.

Video: Murray talks to the media after practice in San Jose

"We got pissed off after our start last game and played the way we can," Cullen said. "We have to carry that chip on our shoulders and go after it."

Cullen didn't think the Penguins did in Game 5. He called it a missed opportunity.

"This is one of those situations where we feel like we did enough good things to win, but I don't think that we made sure," Cullen said. "I think we have a group here that can make sure. And if we play the way we can for 60 (minutes), we feel really good about what happens. But I think we have to have that little bit of pissed-off attitude and go after it and take it."

Provided they do, there's a feeling around this series now that Jones will have to be dominant again for the Sharks to force Game 7.

Can he be?

Video: SJS@PIT, Gm5: Kessel hits both posts on one-timer

"You never know, right?" right wing Phil Kessel said. "Obviously, the way he's playing, he's playing great. We just gotta keep doing the same things. If we put a lot of pucks on net and go to the net hard, hopefully we'll find the back of the net."

But back to the start for a moment, because it's clearly on the Penguins' minds.

What happened?

"I think it's too much energy," Malkin said. "We were excited playing at home, first time we could get a Stanley Cup win at home. Lots of noise around team, and we did not think we [started] right."

Video: Evgeni Malkin talks to reporters following practice

Malkin is talking about the hype that surrounded the Penguins leading into Game 5 for what could have been the first major pro sports championship won in Pittsburgh by a Pittsburgh team in almost 56 years.

Maybe it was paralyzing to the Penguins. Goalie Matt Murray admitted he was nervous. He played like it. So did his teammates.

"Leading up to it, there obviously was a lot of hype," Murray said.

The Penguins don't have to be concerned about that now. They're far more insulated here in Northern California. There will be craziness in Pittsburgh again, including a watch party inside Consol Energy Center, but the Penguins are in Sharks territory with the same goal in mind.

"Find a way to finish," captain Sidney Crosby said.

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