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Stanley Cup Final

Sharks' Zubrus hopes third time's the charm

San Jose forward has lost previous two trips to Stanley Cup Final

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- As the only member of the San Jose Sharks who has played in a Stanley Cup Final, forward Dainius Zubrus had some simple advice for his teammates while they prepare to play the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"Just enjoy the moment and make the best of it," forward Tommy Wingels said after practice Saturday before the Sharks traveled to Pittsburgh. "[Zubrus] just tells you, 'You don't get these opportunities all the time, so let's eliminate distractions and put our best foot forward here and find a way to win.'"

In other words, seize the moment.

Sharks goaltender Martin Jones won the Stanley Cup in 2014 as a backup to Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings but never got on the ice in the Final against the New York Rangers.

Zubrus has played a combined 10 games in two previous Stanley Cup Final appearances. He was an 18-year-old rookie with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1997 when he played in his first Final. The Flyers were swept by the Detroit Red Wings.

Fifteen years later, he made the Cup Final again, this time with the New Jersey Devils and current Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. The Devils lost in six games to the Kings.

Video: SJS@STL, Gm2: Zubrus seals win with empty-netter

Now he's in the Stanley Cup Final for the third time at the age of 37 and is wise enough to know this could be his last chance.

Game 1 is at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"As the career goes on, you realize how hard it is to get to this point," Zubrus said. "Even to make the playoffs. It's not an easy task to make the playoffs and get past the first round. The first year, I got to [the Final]. I didn't make it to the second round for another 10 years.

"So when you think about it, it's a lot of hockey to play and try. It's just kind of how it goes. There's never a same team from year to year, so we're never going to be the same team again here. So I think everybody realizes that, and this is as good of a chance as some of us will have. I know that. I knew that 10 years ago. I know that now. Hopefully this time around, we'll get there."

Zubrus' third trip to the Cup Final is perhaps the most unlikely one. The Devils bought out the final year of his contract, and he didn't have a job in the NHL this season until the Sharks signed him as a free agent on Nov. 24 after a tryout.

DeBoer believed the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Zubrus would bring some veteran leadership for his third and fourth lines and add some muscle to his lineup. Zubrus played 50 games for San Jose during the regular season and the past nine games in the playoffs.

Video: SJS@ANA: Zubrus deflects shot past Andersen

"I think he's a great resource," DeBoer said. "Zubby, he's one on that group of guys in that room, that experienced leadership group that do things right every day. There's no one piece of advice for everybody at this time of year that's going to solve all your issues. I think it's just, 'Stay in the moment and do what got you here,' and he lives that.

"He plays the same way every time he shows up and puts his gear on. I think that's the best advice he can probably give."

Zubrus knows what to expect at this point, because he has lived through the Stanley Cup Final twice before.

"Everything is magnified because there's so much attention from media, from everybody, cousins, friends, family, everybody," said Zubrus, in the playoffs for the 10th time. "Everybody is a critic. Everything is magnified by 100 from whatever it was five days ago.

"Keep it as normal as you can. Stay away from all that stuff. Just do what you did five days ago or two months ago. Just try to keep doing the same thing and get away from all that other stuff because there's a lot of distractions."

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