Editors note: This was written earlier in the week, but didn't get published because a certain editor, Paul Rogers, is a complete bonehead. Sorry Brandon. Pittsburgh when on to win Game 2 in overtime, but San Jose did the same on Saturday to make it a 2-1 series with both teams holding serve on their home courts thus far.
Penguins Take Game One of Stanley Cup Finals 3-2 Over San Jose
-The Pittsburgh Penguins are now three wins away from adding a fourth Stanley Cup win to the franchise's total, after getting a huge goal from forward Nick Bonino with 2:33 left in the third period, breaking a 2-2 tie and helping Pittsburgh hold serve on home ice.
Pittsburgh jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead behind goals from Eastern Conference game-seven hero Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary. The Sharks clawed their way back in though behind a couple fortunate bounces in the second period. First Tomas Hertl, while on the power play. banked a shot off of the right leg of Pen's d-man Olli Maatta and then Patrick Marleau's backhand from behind the net banked off of Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray's skate and in.
Both teams traded chances in the third period, before Pen's d-man Kris Lettang made a nifty pass from behind the net that set up Bonino for a shot from the slot that the clutch forward would just not miss.
San Jose pulled goalie Martin Jones late, but Pittsburgh played excellent defense and limited the number of good looks he would need to face.
Keeping up with the Jones:-Martin Jones was the reason San Jose was able to stay in this game. He had 38 saves on the 41 shots he faced, while Matt Murray stopped 24 of the 26 that he saw. Pittsburgh seemed to be generating offense from all over on the ice and Jones was the reason that the score was not four or five to zero after the first period. San Jose will need a Conn Smythe winning performance from him to win this series and I'm not entirely sure Jonathan Quick's former backup has it in him. Matt Murray did not have to be as excellent, but did match big save for big save during a wild start to the third period.
Headshot Patty:-Former Seattle Thunderbird Patrick Marleau is not commonly known as a cheap shot artist in the NHL, but that is no excuse for the clear shoulder to the head that he threw at Pittsburgh rookie forward Bryan Rust in the third period.
Rust is reportedly day-to-day with concussion-like symptoms and Marleau could very well be looking at a suspension. He was only assessed a two-minute minor on the play on something that certainly looked like "five and a game" to me.
Rust has been pivotal for the Penguins during this playoff run as he has six goals, despite only having five for the entire regular season.
Will the NHL actually suspend Marleau though? If they truly want to make a statement that this type of hit no longer belongs in the game, they will do just that and suspend him for one game.
Crosby Connecting:-On the NBC broadcast. Sidney Crosby was named the game's top star after assisting on Sheary's goal and creating so many other great looks. He was a force on the ice, nearly every shift. It seems clear that Crosby has found another level as the playoffs have gone on and San Jose is about to find out what happens when the game's best player is on his game. The pass he gave to Sheary was a thing of beauty as he slammed on the brakes, had Justin Braun fly on by and flipped a strong backhand pass right onto Shear's tape. Now if Evgeni Malkin can start clicking like we all know he can...
What's the Maatta?-The biggest negative form the game (besides Rust's injury) was Olli Maatta's play. He has really struggled at times after his breakout rookie season and this year's playoff run has see a lot of those times. He was out there for both of San Jose's goals. First, he got stuck in a bad spot and allowed Hertl to use his leg to bank the puck in and then he got stuck in no-man's land as he neither followed Marleau behind his team's net, nor did he try to help out on another forward.
Game Two:-Game two goes Wednesday night at 5pm PST in Pittsburgh. The Pens will be looking to take a 2-0 series lead.