2 Down 2 to Go

Joonas Donskoi scores overtime winner in game 3
Joonas Donskoi scores overtime winner in game 3

Written by The Burgh Blog writer: Austin Tocco

After taking the series lead 2-0, the Stanley Cup Finals shifted to San Jose, California where the Penguins have only won once since 1991. The Penguins took advantage of home ice in games 1 and 2 winning the first game 3-2 and the second game 2-1 in overtime. Heading into San Jose, as expected, the Sharks came out pressing hard, in front of their home crowd for the first time this series, the Sharks did not disappoint as Joonas Donskoi went top shelf on Matt Murray to win the game. I expected the Sharks to dominate the entire game, which was not exactly the case. The Penguins pushed right back and played their game till the very end. They put themselves in a great position to win the game, however, the last bounce did not go their way.

So far this series, I have noticed some really optimistic aspects to the Penguins game. The first being the play of the Penguins captain, Sidney Crosby. Crosby has been leading by example this entire series. Many people might ask why I think he is playing so well when he only has 2 points (2A) in three games of this Final.

Crosby skates by Hertl in game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals
Crosby skates by Hertl in game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals
When Sidney Crosby is on the ice, anything can happen. He can generate a great offensive opportunity with a cross ice pass that finds Conor Sheary, he can stop on a dime, making the defender look terrible, he can win face-offs, and he generates power-play opportunities. All of these aspects to Crosby’s game only makes the players around him that much better. Crosby’s play has led the Penguins to a 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Finals, he might not be lighting the lamp every game, but he is contributing in a way that allows the entire team to be successful. The 28 year old standout has been taking a beating this entire series, especially by Sharks forward Joe Thornton. There is no doubt in my mind that Crosby and the Penguins are really getting inside the heads of the opponent. Players like Thornton and Marleau do not usually retaliate in a position such as this, this is something hockey fans are not used to seeing. Thornton and Marleau are some of the best “gentlemen” of the game, to see them get rattled like they did proves that they have never faced an opponent like Pittsburgh yet this playoffs.

Listening to Head Coach Peter Deboer’s post-game interview following their game 2 overtime loss, it seemed like he threw in the hat. He made it seem like the Penguins were just too powerful for the Sharks to match-up with. He explained how the Penguins truly have 4 solid lines that can score and that the Sharks just cannot keep up with the Penguins speed, which may be true, but come on, your team has a legitimate chance to win the Stanley Cup, the last thing the players need is someone to put them down. I figured that the players would take exception to these comments are really come out and prove their coach wrong as they did in game 3.

Pens and Sharks scuffle in late in game 3
Pens and Sharks scuffle in late in game 3

Following the game 2 victory of the Sharks, San Jose forward Logan Couture came out publically accusing Crosby of cheating during face-offs. Everyone who was asked about this on NBCSN laughed, Mike Milbury explained how every single centerman in the NHL cheats at the dot, which is how you win them to begin with. For Couture to come out and accuse the best player in the world is an outrage. Of course the next day, Couture was forced to explain himself which he then changed his story around rather quickly. The Sharks seem to be rattled in more than one way which could really lead them down 3-1 in the best of 7 series rather quickly.

The Penguins look to go up 3-1 in the series tonight in San Jose for a chance to close the series out on home ice in front of the Penguins faithful. The Penguins have never won a cup on home ice in the franchise’s history. This is the biggest game of the series, being up 3-1 is much better than being tied 2-2.

For future Penguin updates, follow me on twitter @TheBurghBlog_AT

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