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Penguins, Sharks stress importance of fast start

San Jose hopes to even series in Game 6, send Cup Final back to Pittsburgh

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent


Stanley Cup Final

Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series 3-2

TV: 8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins know how important getting the first goal will be in Game 6 at SAP Center on Sunday when Pittsburgh will have its second chance to win the Cup; the team that scored first has won four of the first five games in the series.

San Jose finally scored first in the series in Game 5 and avoided elimination with a 4-2 victory at Consol Energy Center on Thursday. The Sharks took an early 2-0 lead, quickly gave it away, then went ahead for good on Melker Karlsson's goal at 14:47 of the first period.

San Jose played with a lead in Game 5 for the first time in the Final and won despite being outshot 46-22.

"Obviously everybody wants the lead," Sharks forward Nick Spaling said. "It makes it easier to play. It just gives you the confidence going forward in the game. Tonight our message is about sticking with it. If we can get that lead, hold onto it and do what we do well."

The Penguins want to fix what went wrong early in Game 5 and repeat what they did for most of the game.

"I think we played a hell of a game the last 55 minutes," Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist said. "We rolled over them. We got so many scoring chances, but we couldn't find the puck. We have to play exactly the same game here tonight. Maybe clean up the first five minutes. ... Other than that, if we play like we did, I like our chances."

After Game 5, Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said his team looked unsettled early in the first period.

"When I say the team was unsettled, by no means do I think we were flat," Sullivan said. "We certainly didn't have the start we wanted as far as controlling momentum right from the drop of the puck. Give San Jose credit. They were opportunistic on a couple of the chances they got and it ended up in the back of our net.

"I think we can play with more purpose in those first few shifts to get us off on the right foot in the first period. I know that our team is well aware that we need to have a better start to make sure that we don't get down in the game as early as we did. It's tough to win when you do that."

The Sharks held Pittsburgh to a series-low 20 shots in Game 4 at SAP Center, and coach Peter DeBoer hopes playing at home again will help San Jose do a better job of protecting goaltender Martin Jones.

"I think being at home helped part of it," DeBoer said. "But I think it was more our mindset. We got away from it last game. We allowed them to funnel pucks to the net. That's what they do. I thought we did a great job [in Game 4], probably the best game of the series where we've done a good job of denying them funneling those pucks to the net.

"We've got to get back to that. We have to help Jones out. Even if those aren't quality shots, it creates action in our net, it creates chaos. That's what they're looking to do. We've got to put a stop to that."

Here are the projected lineups:


Conor Sheary - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist

Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust

Carl Hagelin - Nick Bonino - Phil Kessel

Tom Kuhnhackl - Matt Cullen - Eric Fehr

Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang

Olli Maatta - Ben Lovejoy

Ian Cole - Justin Schultz

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury

Injured: Kevin Porter (ankle surgery), Scott Wilson (lower body), Trevor Daley (ankle)

Scratched: Jeff Zatkoff, Derrick Pouliot, Oskar Sundqvist, Beau Bennett, Kael Mouillierat, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Daniel Sprong, Tristan Jarry


Joonas Donskoi - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Melker Karlsson

Matt Nieto - Chris Tierney - Joel Ward

Dainius Zubrus - Nick Spaling - Tommy Wingels

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon - Roman Polak

Martin Jones

James Reimer

Injured: Tomas Hertl (lower body)

Scratched: Micheal Haley, Dylan DeMelo

Status report: Murray, who was replaced in the starting lineup by Fleury for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay, is expected to make his eighth straight start. ... Hertl will miss his fourth straight game and remains day-to-day. He was not on the ice for San Jose's optional morning skate. "Hertl is making progress, getting better every day," DeBoer said. ... Donskoi is expected to remain on the top line for a second straight game in place of Hertl, with Karlsson on the second line with Couture and Marleau.

Who's hot: Malkin has scored a power-play goal in each of the past two games. ... Kessel has three assists in the past two games. ... Couture had a goal and two assists in Game 5 and leads the NHL with 29 points in the playoffs. ... Karlsson has a two-game goal streak.

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