Bonino, Bonino, Bonino
Three wins away.
In a tightly contested game, Nick Bonino continued with his excellent post-season in delivering the game winning goal with 2:33 left in regulation.
The Penguins would then kill off a Ben Lovejoy hooking penalty in the final minute to secure a 3-2 win in Game 1.
Finding ways to win tightly contested games has been the Penguins way since the second round.
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final would not be any different with the Penguins getting contributions throughout with first period goals from Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary to Nick Bonino’s game winner.
Pittsburgh got three even strength goals with a goal from each line.
The best player on the ice tonight might have been Sidney Crosby who finished with 1 assist.
His determination set the tone in the first period.
“You could see his hunger to win. He’s inspiring. I thought he was a force out there all night. He has that twinkle in his eye,” Mike Sullivan said of Sidney Crosby.
In the first period the Penguins were able to get to their game in a big way. Their speed overwhelmed San Jose in all three zones and Pittsburgh outshot San Jose 15-4 in the period.
“We wanted to try to go out and dictate the terms right away,” Mike Sullivan said.
Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said afterwards his team was standing around in the first period and it sure looked that way.
In the second period, San Jose flexed their muscles, getting to their heavy checking game and causing the Penguins problems below the hash marks.
Both teams brought their A-game in a particular period and the different in the game is in the third Pittsburgh was able to find their footing again.
When you carry the play for a higher percentage than the opposition over sixty minutes you usually find a way to come out on top.
That was the Penguins again tonight in peppering Martin Jones with 41 shots. `
“They played their game for longer stretches than we did tonight and that’s what happens” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said of the Sharks Game 1 loss.
Where the Penguins have transformed into a frustrating team to play against is their play without the puck and it’s not with physical play. Mike Sullivan has proven he’s not John Tortorella in a good way but there’s one thing Sullivan has morphed this team into that Tortorella teams always had when Sullivan was an assistant is getting their bodies in shooting lanes becoming just a natural instinct.
Jon Cooper marveled about it in Round 3 and in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final the Penguins blocked 19 shots. Nick Bonino led the way with a team-high six blocked shots.
Another underrated aspect of the Penguins win was Matt Murray.
He continues to show this tremendous ability of not giving up that critical next goal in tightly contested games.
Murray went 4-1 vs Braden Holtby in one-goal games, 2-0 vs the Lightning in one-goal games and now 1-0 in the Stanley Cup Final.
Game 3 is Wednesday night.