Sharks’ magical season comes to an end

On the seven-year anniversary of Pittsburgh’s last Stanley Cup win, the Penguins closed out the Sharks 3-1 for their fourth title in franchise history.
Brian Dumoulin had a power play goal and Kris Letang hit a tie-breaking goal in the second. Patrick Hornqvist clinched it with an empty net goal with 1:02 to play.
Sydney Crosby was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. He finished with six goals, 13 assists and 19 points for the playoffs. He was held to just four assists for the series.
“Once you get into the playoffs, anything can happened and we were playing good at the right time,” Crosby said. “We had to go through some pretty good teams: New York was playing good down the stretch; Washington, obviously they were the top team; Tampa had us on the brink of elimination, we had to find a way to get through that; and obviously San Jose.
“The way they played, they’re physical, and they’re fast. (Martin) Jones was unbelievable.”
Logan Couture scored a goal in the second that for a brief time tied the game. Letang retook the lead for good just over a minute later.
The difference in the game came down to the power play. There were four penalties called for the whole game, two per side. Pittsburg converted its chance. The Sharks did not.
Pittsburgh celebrated on San Jose. The Sharks did not.
“It’s been a really special group. To work all year and putting together a year like that—it was a great group of guys—it’s tough,” said defenseman Brent Burns.
However bad the loss feels for the Sharks, the team and fans can reflect on the fact that they witnessed the best run by San Jose in team history.
It was the first time the Sharks advanced to the Stanley Cup Final and pushed Pittsburgh to six games. In reality, San Jose was a few posts here, a poke check there away from either winning in six or moving on to play a winner take all in Game 7.
“It was just an unbelievable group we had,” Ward said. “From day one it felt like it was something special. It was a lot of time, a lot of hard work and travel.”
San Jose managed just two shots on goal in the third period and were outshot 27-19 for the game, a theme of the Stanley Cup Final.
Penguins outshot San Jose 206-139 for the series. That included three 40-shot efforts with a series high 46 in Game 5.
That game, Martin Jones stopped 44 to set a Finals saves record.
“Jonesie has been there all year and he put on quite a performance in these playoffs,” Ward said. “We knew what he was capable of, he’s done it all year for us. … But hats off to him for an unbelievable series.”
Penguins’ keeper Matt Murray stopped 18 of 19 shots he faced thanks in large part to the defense he had in front of him.
“They are a good team so they’re going to have their chances. We were able to make it through it,” Murray said. “That’s what you need to do at this time is bend but not break.”
Zubrus called for tripping 7:51 of the first and Dumoulin turned it into the game’s first goal just 26 seconds into the power play.
Pittsburgh’s speed and defense denied San Jose numerous opportunities on the break away and on rebounds.
Matt Nieto forced a turnover and a two-on-none was on. Murray made the stop, but Chris Tierney wasn’t in the right position for the rebound.
Ward had a break on goal and couldn’t get a shot off as Kuntz laid out and just got his stick on the puck before an attempt on goal.
“I thought we had a shot,” DeBoer said. “The first period, we had a couple two‑on‑ones, a couple guys in alone. Second period, I thought we had some really good stretches.  That was our opportunity to maybe grab the lead. When we didn’t, that was probably the difference in the game tonight.”
The Sharks went behind the eight ball midway though the period when Karlsson lost his edge and went hard into the boards, doing the splits.
He left the ice favoring his right leg, but returned later in the frame.
Penguins outscored the Sharks 9-4 in the first.
The Sharks were on fire to start the second period and Couture capitalized. He scored at 6:27 seconds into the second.
But the tie game didn’t last long.
Letang scored on a pass from Crosby just minutes later, effectively taking the crowd out of the game.
That was just Crosby’s third point of the Final and it couldn’t have come at a bigger time.
He finished with four after dishing the puck off to Hornqvist for an empty net goal clinching the cup.
San Jose finishes 46-30-6 overall for the regular season and 14-10 in the playoffs.

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