In a frenetic, fast-paced start to the Stanley Cup Final, the Sharks came up short in a 3-2 loss to the Penguins on the road in Game 1.
Nick Bonino scored the game-winning goal with under three minutes left in regulation, taking a feed from Kris Letang from the boards and beating Martin Jones from point-blank. It was an inopportune defensive breakdown for the Sharks, as Brent Burns had dropped his stick, allowing Letang to make the pass, and Paul Martin didn’t react quick enough to Bonino in front.
The Sharks had nearly made it to overtime riding Jones’ big night, as the goaltender kept the game tied with several key saves in the third period. Jones made 38 saves on 41 Pittsburgh shots.
Down 2-0 entering the second period, the Sharks weathered the electric start by the Penguins and evened the score with two goals. Tomas Hertl converted on the power play, jamming the puck in from the side. And with time running down in the period, Patrick Marleau tied the game at 2-2, taking the rebound off a Brent Burns shot and scoring on a beautiful wraparound.
It was a tale of two periods to open the game, as the Sharks never seemed to settle down in the first period. They looked jittery and rattled, and it showed when they allowed two goals in a span of 62 seconds.
At 12:46 of the first, Bryan Rust put the Penguins up 1-0 with a tap-in goal on the rush, which was created after Justin Braun‘s failed pinch to keep the puck in the offensive zone and left a forward in Melker Karlsson hung out to dry on defense. The rookie Rust raced down the ice, fed Justin Shultz, whose blocked shot caromed back to Rust for the goal with Jones and Karlsson out of position.
Speed hurt the Sharks again just a minute later. Sidney Crosby beat Braun in a race for a loos puck down the ice, eluded Braun and feathered a no-look backhand pass to Conor Sheary — another rookie — to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead.
The Sharks spent hardly any time in the offensive zone, chasing the Penguins around and being outshot 15-4 in the first period as a result.
They wound up being outshot 41-26 for the game and outscored by one on the scoreboard. Like against the Blues in the conference finals, they will need to win Game 2 — Wednesday at 5 p.m. PST — to steal home-ice advantage.