Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box of the Pens’ 4-2 setback the San Jose Sharks in Game 5.
TONS OF CHANCES
I loved the Pens’ game tonight. They deserved to win, and most nights they would with an effort like that. I know at this point, results are all that matter and they didn’t get the one they wanted in Game 5 with a chance to win the Stanley Cup at home ice. But if they play this way the rest of the series I like their chances. Those are exactly what they created for themselves from start to finish, even when things tightened up after that crazy first. Mike Sullivan has said many times he has a lot of faith in his leadership to set the example, and that was the case tonight as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin played terrific. Malkin in particular was willing the puck up the ice around the Sharks defensemen and taking it to the net, while Crosby was a beast on the boards and in the hard areas. And Phil Kessel – man. He had a number of Grade-A chances, including hitting a double-post on the power play, and helped create more. Those guys drove their lines and the power play. As a team, the Pens flung a ton of shots at Martin Jones. They did everything right; they just couldn’t find that third goal.
This wasn’t Matt Murray’s strongest game of the playoffs. He and the rest of the team looked, as head coach Mike Sullivan called it, ‘unsettled’ to start the game and he allowed three goals on just seven shots. While he was able to shut it down for the rest of the night, the Pens weren’t able to recover from that deficit thanks to the incredible play of Martin Jones down at the other end. Both pucks that got past him came off deflections, and he stopped everything else he saw. As the Pens pressed to come back during the second and third, he was fantastic – finding the puck through scrambles at his net-front, standing strong and making key saves. He was certainly the difference-maker that kept the Pens from clinching this series tonight.
The first period – well really, the first few minutes – was arguably more exciting than the rest of the hockey played in this series combined. The teams combined for four goals in the the opening 5:06 of the game, breaking the record for fastest four goals to start a Stanley Cup Final game according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Sharks opened the scoring with a pair of goals in the first 2:06. It was a rough start for the Pens, but they responded – as they always do – with a pair of their own in a 22-second span from Malkin and Carl Hagelin. From there, they played an incredibly strong game for the next 55 minutes.